Although Mo Shu-daren wasn’t picky with food, everyone knew that Mo Shu-xiansheng liked his food sweet. Ranging from as small as sweet peas to as big as cookies, he loved every single one of them. Even if it was the Zaotang1 for the New Year, he would still sneakily scoop a few spoonfuls with a calm demeanor…
Nan Ge Er looked in resignation at the man who was biting on the ladle without any shame, “Mo Shu-xiansheng.” When the heck did you sneak in here?!
Mo Shu turned his head to Nan Ge Er. Without any guilt upon being caught red-handed, he greeted Nan Ge Er coolly, “Xiao Nan, why are you here?” His hand was still gripping the ladle tightly.
… Xiao Nan, my arse! Nan Ge Er looked gloomily at Mo Shu’s composed face—Can you stop having no moral compass, your image in my mind has fallen to a whole new low! Ah, no, you broke your lowest record just now.
“You don’t look good.” Mo Shu suddenly glanced at him as he spoke.
Nan Ge Er frowned, as he looked at Mo Shu—It was not that he wanted to show how resigned he was about Mo Shu clearly on his face, just that he wasn’t feeling too great ever since he woke up in the morning; his vision was even blurry and shaky at the moment. However, his body’s condition had always been bad, almost never optimal, so he didn’t really care about it.
Hearing Mo Shu’s words, Nan Ge Er asked with annoyance, “Hah? My look?” When do I ever look well? The winter here is totally out to get my life, alright?!
“And your voice seems strange.” Mo Shu finally placed the ladle back to its original position, turning to look at Nan Ge Er, observing carefully.
“Oi! Don’t put back the ladle that is covered with your saliva!” Though you licked it clean, everyone would be eating from it later!
Nan Ge Er walked over joylessly, intending to remove the ladle that was thrown haphazardly by Mo Shu from the Zaotang… Huh? Why… Is the floor spinning? Oh, it’s me, I… He didn’t know what happened after that.
As he opened his eyes again, he only felt a splitting headache, as if there was a fat worm stuffed in his brain, gnawing on it. Fortunately, he had already developed an enormous tolerance toward such pain. He only felt that it hurt, but not to the extent of going crazy.
However, his body seemed to be rather warm. It had been a long time since he’d last felt that way. In the winter, the warm blanket he was huddled in was exceptionally relaxing. He let out a rather pleased sigh and rubbed his chin on the blanket.
Wait… Where exactly is this place?! He finally realized he wasn’t in the bedroom he usually slept in… Right, I’m already dead, I’m not in a dream now. This is the other world. After escaping the nightmarish royal life, I’m currently doing chores in a certain strange district. The exceptional warmth made his train of thought slow down; at last, he came back to his senses.
The person beside him lazily yawned, too, “You’ve woken up, Xiao Nan,” while naturally reaching out his hand to touch his forehead, “Mm, the fever subsided.”
Oi-what’s with this situation-why is this fellow in my bed-no-why am I in his room, and even lying on a bed-oi-what in the world happened?! Nan Ge Er was so nervous that he couldn’t even form any words, his widened eyes almost bulging out.
“Ah.” Only after noticing Nan Ge Er’s tensed body did Mo Shu then stop his casual arranging of Nan Ge Er’s hair, “What’s wrong?”
Nan Ge Er opened his mouth, not knowing what to say.
“Because you caught a cold, overworked, burdened your body with worry, and since your body’s condition isn’t great in the first place, you fall sick all of a sudden,” Mo Shu explained compassionately, “There are some air leaks in your room, that’s why you’ve been moved here. Plus, it will be warmer with two people together.” Seeing Nan Ge Er’s expression gradually easing up, he tactfully hide the fact that it was Nan Ge Er who forced himself into the bed.
“… I didn’t do anything strange or say anything weird, did I?” a while later, Nan Ge Er asked in a hoarse voice nervously with some difficulty.
He knew that he had a severe fever this time, and was completely unconscious. He didn’t know if he had begun to let things go or if it was just that him being here in the district made him relaxed. Never had he been unconscious when there were people around, as he was afraid he would blurt out words that would reveal his identity. He was not afraid of death, but it didn’t mean that he was willing to be seen as a weirdo in others’ eyes.
“Did I say anything weird?” Mo Shu still lay there lazily while recollecting. Turr nnair comm(Turn on the air con) Muun Daa(Mum, Dad) Humburr(Hamburger)… To be precise, not a single phrase was comprehensible.
“You didn’t say anything weird,” Mo Shu answered. Everything was incomprehensible to him. “But, you mentioned feeling pain.” Tugging on my sleeves, while crying and grumbling that it was painful, the wounds hurt, felt like dying…things along those lines. It’s quite adorable. As he made such a conclusion, Mo Shu couldn’t help but reach his hand out to touch Nan Ge Er’s forehead again – the fever did subside. He put his hand down a little reluctantly.
Despite Mo Shu’s reassurance, it still made Nan Ge Er a little embarrassed. He was a grown man after all, how could he blurt out cowardly words?
“Oh right, the doctor said it is best for you to sleep with me during winter nights from now on,” Mo Shu stated as he turned his face towards Nan Ge Er.
“Huh?” Nan Ge Er widened his eyes.
“Since your body’s condition is just too terrible, you can’t catch even a single cold. No matter how little it is, if it gets serious, it might kill you,” Mo Shu added gravely.
“Oh…” Nan Ge Er blinked. He didn’t know that it had gotten that bad.
“The winter in the South is damp and much colder, so you have to be even more careful.” Mo Shu wore a serious expression on his face.
“Mn.” Thinking for a long while, Nan Ge Er finally nodded his head before asking again, “Erm, is it alright? You are Magistrate-Daren after all.” Sleeping in the same bed as your boss, isn’t that a little too weird?
“There is only you and me living in the government office,” Mo Shu reminded him.
“… Ah, right.” Nan Ge Er nodded his head.
“If any manual labor is needed next time, just tell me, I will do it.” Mo Shu finally decided to get up. He pressed the blanket on Nan Ge Er’s side to prevent cold air from getting under it while advising, “Also, don’t think too much, just take things as they come.” In truth, Nan Ge Er’s condition was incredibly awful. Mo Shu conveyed most of what the doctor said accurately —except for the part about requesting Nan Ge Er to move over to his room to sleep.
“… Mn.” Nan Ge Er nodded his head hesitantly. The doctor said that I burdened my body with worry, but the problem is, I didn’t even think much about anything at all!
“Just lie down, someone will serve you porridge later. You are frail now, so you can’t have rice.” Mo Shu buttoned up his clothes, put on his shoes, got off the bed, then took out a half-broken bronze mirror that came out of nowhere, brushing his hair with a comb which had a few teeth missing, before skilfully tying his hair up. Wearing his coat which was retrieved from the coat hanger that Nan Ge Er had nailed, he then donned his hat, intending to go out.
“Erm, how long has it been since I fainted?” Nan Ge Er stopped him in a hurry. The reason for this haste was because he was awestruck by Mo Shu’s actions. Those casual movements from everyday life, when performed by Mo Shu, had a lingering charm and elegance to them.
“It’s going to be the 30th in three days,” Mo Shu replied, pushing the door as he walked out, “The Kitchen God has been seen off, the government office has been swept, and the meat for New Year has been cut. I will call someone over in the afternoon to help you with your bath.”
“Ah, sure.” Nan Ge Er nodded his head. He was still able to arrange everything properly without me, huh? After all, before my arrival, he still celebrated the New Year successfully every year.
In the afternoon, his helper arrived. As expected, it was Xiao Xia, Xia Jia Fu. That fellow kept talking endlessly from the moment he showed up.
Nan Ge Er almost had a headache because of him. He only wanted someone to bring the water over so that he could have a shower, but unfortunately, this guy kept chattering non-stop as he brought the water over.
“Nan Ge Er, do you know that when Mo Shu-xiansheng learned that you fainted because you were overworked, he felt so guilty…” Xia Jia Fu was full of admiration, “That’s our Mo Shu-xiansheng, he worries and cares for everyone, even if it’s you.”
… What do you mean, even if it’s about me?! Am I that unpopular?!
“Nan Ge Er, do you know, Mo Shu–xiansheng stayed by your side every day, and even feed you porridge,” Xia Jia Fu spoke with envy, “But you had your mouth tightly shut, it couldn’t even be pried open with chopsticks, so how did he manage to feed you? Mo Shu-xiansheng didn’t allow us to watch, though.”
… I am curious too! Moreover, that information is giving me an odd feeling that’s making my skin crawl!
“Nan Ge Er, do you know, although Mo Shu-xiansheng said that the Kitchen God was seen off, Zaotang wasn’t used to stick on the lips of the Kitchen God’s paper effigy; rice paste was haphazardly smeared on instead…”
Nan Ge Er was expressionless— I get it, that bastard must have eaten all of it, so there was nothing left to use, isn’t that too dismissive of the tradition?!
“Nan Ge Er…”
“Alright, Xiao Xia-ge.” Nan Ge Er seriously couldn’t take it any longer, interrupting Xia Jia Fu—
He didn’t want to hear any more, the news that came one after another weren’t something his fragile spirit could handle, “Can I take a bath first? I’m afraid that the water is going to get cold.”
“Oh my, I’ve forgotten about it.” Xia Jia Fu knocked on his head, helping Nan Ge Er up, “Do you need me to help you get to the bathtub?”
“… No need.” I have no interest in letting a guy watch me bathing!
“Sure, I will stroll along the river bank later, to see if there are people to pick up,” Xia Jia Fu answered joyfully.
Hey… Seriously, what is wrong with you?
1 Zaotang: (from wiki) a kind of candy made of maltose that people in China use as a sacrifice to the Kitchen God around the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month just before Chinese New Year. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaotang