title: December 1rst
fandom: Tale of Saiunkoku
characters/pairings: very slight Kouyuu/Shuuei, Reishin, Ryuuki
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Kouyuu gets a cold.
notes: for cairnsy, for the first day of the advent ficalendar, or whatever. ^_^;;;;;; merry christmas, darling!!! this isn't... er, QUITE what you wanted, but it's kouyuu-rific, so... hopefully... ^_^;;;;;

It was just a sneeze, but he knew it was going to be the end of his peace for the day, maybe the week. Reishin dropped his chopsticks, and narrowed his eyes. Kouyuu sighed, and covered his mouth with his handkerchief. Usually, he was happy to have breakfast with Reishin on the mornings when his adopted father deigned to dine with him.

Sighing, Kouyuu tried to continue eating.

"Are you getting a cold, Kouyuu?" Reishin tapped his closed fan against his chin, eyeing Kouyuu speculatively. Kouyuu tried to ignore him, but under such scrutiny, he bobbled his chopsticks, and dropped his rice. Reishin made a clucking sound with his tongue. "I don't want to working all day with someone who is sick. ....You should stay home."

Kouyuu gritted his teeth together. He tried to tell himself that Reishin was just concerned for him... for his health... "I just sneezed. It's noth-" And then he sneezed again. And coughed.

Reishin opened his fan and covered his mouth. He grabbed the small bell at the corner of the table, and rang it vigorously. The door at the side slid open, and the servant bowed down to Reishin. "Warm up a hot water bottle, prepare some medicinal soup, and tea, and send a messenger to the Emperor to inform him that Li Kouyuu will be staying home ill today."

"No!" Kouyuu shouted too loudly, scaring the maid. "I'm not staying home today! I am not sick!"

"Kouyuu," Reishin sighed, distressed. He looked at Kouyuu exactly as he would look at a child who was repeatedly running into a wall. "You have to pay attention to your health and your body. It's not like you can think clearly when your sinuses are backed up. All of that gunk gets into your brain; you'll be useless to me."

Kouyuu felt something getting backed up, anyway "I'm fine, completely fine, I'm not sick at all! Listen to me, Reishin-sama!"

"Now you're delusional," Reishin sighed, biting his lip. He looked to the maid. "Please call for a doctor as soon as possible!"

Kouyuu leapt to his feet and threw his chopsticks on the table. That would have been more dramatic if they didn't bounce back at him, and he didn't completely duck out of their way. "I'm going! I'm going in now!" He turned to leave, and started to cough, but he still stormed off. And walked into the wall. And then sneezed on the maid.

"Damn it!" Kouyuu screamed out, and then he stomped out of the room, out of the house, ignoring Reishin's pleas to stay at home, and for the love of all that was holy, that wasn't the way to the palace, where are you going?!

Most of the time, he wanted Reishin to pay more attention to him... until he did.

He had his head down, his fingers clutching his hair on one hand, and his pen in the other. He would not admit that the ink was blurring before his eyes, or that his head was about to explode from pressure. It was just a damned cold! He wasn't weak!

A tray dropped down in front of him, and he looked up and glared at the deliverer. "What is this?" he growled.

Ran Shuuei, though, was unconcerned about Kouyuu's mood. He went around Kouyuu's desk, and dropped a heavy wool jacket over his shoulders. "Isn't it obvious? I'm being nice! You should say thank you." He lifted Kouyuu's chin, and winked. Huskily, he added, "If you don't want to use words, you can still use your lips."

Kouyuu's arms flailed around him, pushing that damned Shuuei away. "You idiot! Who asked you for any of this?! Who would say thank you for something like this?! Are you mad?"

"But you have a cold," Shuuei pouted.

"I do not!" Kouyuu yelled, jumping to his feet. Which would have come off better if he hadn't stumbled a bit. And then sneezed. On Shuuei. Who looked down at his chest with a raised eyebrow. "Damn it! You can't believe everything Reishin-sama tells you!"

"Oh, is Reishin-sama also worried about you? You should have stayed home! If you sent me a messenger, I would have come to be your nursemaid." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at Kouyuu. "I would have even worn the right dress, if you wanted me to."

"Why would I want you to?" Kouyuu wailed. He picked up the cup of medicinal tea that damned Shuuei brought and threw it at him, but his aim was off, and cup fell harmlessly over his shoulder, after spilling its contents all over Kouyuu's desk. "GET OUT!"

"Kouyuu," Shuuei sighed, in exactly the same way that Reishin had. "Really, you shouldn't work yourself up into such a froth when you're ill. Why don't you lay down and I'll clean up for you?"

Kouyuu picked up the nearest book, but that was heavy, so he picked up a thick scroll next to it and started hitting Shuuei until he finally left, laughing like the cocky bastard he was.

And damn him! After all that hitting, Kouyuu had to lie down for a bit to catch his breath! But it had nothing whatsoever to do with whatever that idiot had said!

"Kouyuu?" He knew that voice. He also knew, then, whose fingers kept poking his nose. He opened his eyes, glaring at the idiot Emperor, but that just earned him a bright, beaming smile.


"Kouyuu, you were sleeping," Ryuuki informed him unnecessarily. Did the idiot think he wasn't aware?! "Reishin-sama has been worried about you all day long. And so has Shuuei. Shouka-sama even mentioned it to us. Would you rather go home to rest?"

"No, I would not. If I wanted to do that, I would have, this morning! Everyone should just mind their own business! What I want to do is work, since no one else around here can be depended on," he declared, glaring at Ryuuki. And then he started coughing.

Ryuuki cutely covered his mouth with his voluminous sleeves, and melped. He leaned over, and patted Kouyuu on the back. "That sounds like a nasty cough. Hm. When we were little, we often got colds at this time of year, too." Kouyuu looked up at Ryuuki speculatively. The fool laughed a bit. "But, if our older brothers saw us coughing, or sneezing, we'd be locked down in the basement for a week, so we would not infect anyone else. We hated that... more than anything."

Kouyuu sat up a bit straighter, his expression blanking out. He knew about the Emperor's past... and what affect it had on his sleep. He'd been cajoled a few times to stay over at the palace and stay with Ryuuki. He just was too cute sometimes! But... to think of being locked in a basement because of a cold...

Reishin and Shuuei were overreacting, but. Well.

At least they cared.

"Ah! We know!" Ryuuki stood up, and reached out for Kouyuu's hand, pulling him along excitedly. "Come, come, we know just the thing!"

"Hey!" Kouyuu objected, but Ryuuki wasn't paying attention. He followed the Emperor down the hallways, but...

Ryuuki was staying close to the walls and shadows, and he'd slow down as they approached the intersections of corridors, looking around quickly to be sure they weren't seen. Kouyuu knew that Shuuei had these sorts of skills, but it was too easy to forget that Ryuuki's stupid act was just that.

The young man had survived for years while everyone around him was actively wishing him dead.

They went outside, and the cool, crisp air hit Kouyuu's lungs, making him unable to repress his cough. Ryuuki looked over his shoulder and winked, pressing his forefinger to his lips. Kouyuu didn't need to be told! But then again, he wasn't sure why they were sneaking around, either.

They went through a gate, and Ryuuki cried out triumphantly. Kouyuu still didn't understand, but Ryuuki let go of his hand and rushed off. They were in... the royal gardens? Ryuuki went immediately to a small, low bush with long, thin green leaves. The flowers that had clearly once been there had already died off, so Kouyuu really wasn't sure what Ryuuki was doing. "Ah... Just what are we...?"

"Here!" Ryuuki pointed. He got down on his knees, and started digging. Horrified, Kouyuu couldn't do anything but watch. Finally, Ryuuki pulled... something... out of the ground. "Here!" Ryuuki said again, proudly offering his finding to Kouyuu.

Kouyuu's eyes widened, and he took a step back.

"Shouka-sama taught us this. We always used this to fend off coughing and sneezing. It's ginger root! Just cut off the skin, and cut it into chunks. You chew on it, for as long as you're able." Ryuuki beamed.

Shaking his head, Kouyuu couldn't help grinning in return. Still. The Emperor was on his knees in the garden, his royal fingernails packed with dirt, his clothes a mess. All for this. "Wouldn't that be... rather... strong?"

"Exactly!" Ryuuki laughed. He got up slowly, brushing off his clothes, which only served to make them dirtier. "It's the strength of it that helps. It clears out your head entirely. You'll be able to think and work. Ah! Not that I... I mean, I'll do my share, too, of course! But... you said you wanted to..."

Chuckling, Kouyuu took the ginger root, and bowed. "Honestly. They have these in the kitchen, you know!"

"Eheheh," Ryuuki put his hands behind his back, and smiled shyly. "We could not do that when we were young. We could never risk stealing from the kitchens. Besides, it's better if it's fresh, we think!"

Kouyuu shook his head, and sighed. "Well, you're probably right about that. Thank you."
 "Feel better, Kouyuu," Ryuuki asked. "Many people are worried about you."

Kouyuu bonked Ryuuki on the head with the ginger root affectionately. "Many people should get back to their own work, before I need to scold them, don't you think?"

"Ee! We're going!" Ryuuki laughed. "Oh... but, ah, first, we need something from your office. Yes. Let's go back together, mm?"

Kouyuu was about to say something, but... well, how was he supposed to know where the royal gardens were?! Of course Ryuuki should lead him back!

He nodded gratefully, and stood aside so Ryuuki could lead the way.

Reishin tapped his fan on Kouyuu's desk, frowning slightly, but Kouyuu was nearly done with his revisions, so he just grunted.

"You're looking better," Reishin said distrustfully. "I heard that Ran boy was here; you weren't letting him play doctor, were you?"

Grimacing at the implication, Kouyuu answered immediately, "No way."

"Hm." Reishin didn't seem pleased that Kouyuu was doing better. Kouyuu blotted his work, and looked up at his adopted father. "I also heard that the Emperor was seen with mud about his knees today. Disgraceful." He looked down rather pointedly at the ginger root at Kouyuu's elbow.

"Don't be so hard on him," Kouyuu chastised gently. "He's a good man."

Reishin narrowed his eyes and said nothing.

"Are you going home, or will you be visiting Chamberlain Kou today?" Kouyuu asked. If Reishin was going home, that could be rather... convenient, but Kouyuu wouldn't presume to assume that was why he had come to see Kouyuu.

"Hm. I'm going home. And you?" he asked sharply.

Kouyuu smiled tiredly. "I'm done for the day. And. I might spend tomorrow at home. I... could probably use some rest."

"Excellent!" Reishin declared, slapping his fan in his hand. "I'll stay home, too! Heavens knows what I've been exposed to, being near you. We can play cards, and you can organize my scrolls!"

Kouyuu wasn't sure what there was in that plan that was supposed to be restful for him, but if it was what Reishin wanted, then it was fine. As he stood up, he picked up the wool jacket Shuuei had left, and slipped it on.

It wasn't so bad, really, being sick.