Tea with a Side of Trust
"I'm so sorry to have to ask you to do this, Kageyama, but the twins have school, (First Name) is sick, I have to go to the market again, and her father has to go work at the smithy! Could you please watch over her?" Your mother bows over and over again to the former king, hair falling into her eyes as she pleads with him. "I know you're the former king and you're probably not used to taking care of others, but all she really needs is just someone to make sure she rests!"
The tall male waves both hands in front of his chest, grimacing. "Uh, I guess I could do it," he mumbles, scratching the back of his head. "Stop bowing to me, though – I'm not a king anymore," he frowns. "It's not really all that much trouble, and I wouldn't have anything to do, anyways."
"If you don't watch over (First Name), she's definitely going to get up and overexert herself while she's still sick! Please, I'm begging you, take care of her!"
"Okay, okay! I got it! I'll do it!" he snaps at her, if only to get her to shut up. Seeing her hurt look, he flinches and apologizes, mentally reprimanding himself for being so snarky. If (First Name) saw this, she'd call me a pissy boy king again, then she'd hit me on the head. He smiles at the thought and reassures your mother that he'll take care of you; ushering her out the door with a quick farewell, he turns on his heel and heads for your room.
"Kageyama?" You open a tired eye to look at who just entered your room. "Is that you?" Trying to sit up, you're promptly bombarded by a stray pillow; you wince in wolf sleeps peacefully next to your bed.
"Stay in bed."
"I said, stay in bed." Marching over to you, Kageyama sits next to you. You notice how his eyebrows form a small 'V' as he peers at you.
"I have to work!"
"'I have to work,' she says," he mimics, eyebrows furrowing upwards and mouth forming an upside-down triangle, the bags under his eyes creasing ever so slightly as he does so.
"That's an ugly face," you say. "Try smiling; maybe you won't make me want to puke." Hacking loudly into your arm, you continue. "I do have to work, though."
"What exactly do you have to do?"
"I have to herd my sheep."
"Can't anyone else do it?"
"No." You glare at the boy, who sighs.
"I saw that peppy ginger before, when I visited. He seemed super excited about herding your sheep. What about him?"
"No. Definitely not Shoyo – anybody but him."
"Shoyo it is. Where's your wooden stick thing? That thing you wave around at the sheep with."
"You don't even listen to me! What's the point of talking? And that wooden thing's called a crook, you idiot."
"Yeah, that. Where is it?"
"Not telling you."
"Fine. I found it anyways." He grabs your crook, which was leaning against the bedroom wall, and leaves your bedroom.
"Look who I brought back," Kageyama announces as he strides back into your room.
Immediately trailing after him like a lovesick puppy is Shoyo, clutching your wooden crook tightly in his hands. "(First Name), are you okay?!" He makes a beeline for your bed, but luckily, the former king's arm stops him in his tracks.
"She's sick. If you get sick from her, there'll be nobody to watch the sheep and she'll get all pissy again," he says.
"You're making that face again, Kageyama," you mutter, watching the ginger try to wrestle his way out of the taller male's iron grip.
"What face?" The onyx-haired male looks at you.
"That face. The one you made when you imitated me. The ugly one."
Kageyama is distracted by the ginger's quick dash over to where your wolf is lying on the ground, its watchful eyes tracking the shorter boy's every move.
"C'mon, Shadow! Let's go herd sheep!" Shoyo cheers happily as you wince from his loud voice.
"Tone it down a bit, would you? You're giving me a headache," you say, pressing two fingers to your temples and releasing a loud sigh.
"Sorry, (First Name)," he says, shrinking back a bit. "But you can trust me – remember how good of a job I did last time herding your sheep?"
"More like how good of a job Shadow did herding them while you made weird sounds and jumped in the air," you say, turning around and fluffing your pillow up more.
"How'd you know—?!"
"You're Shoyo. I don't need to know; it's really obvious what you'd do. I watched you once, remember? Now get out. My sheep will wander off if you don't leave now," you say, waving a hand at the boy. "Kageyama, show him out. And get me some tea on the way back, would you? Be a dear."
The former king grumbles as he shoves Shoyo out the door, crook in hand and Shadow in tow.
He returns with a mug of tea and gives it to you, who sips it. "Can you add some sugar in it? It's in the top left cabinet. You shouldn't have any trouble reaching it, since you're so tall."
Kageyama walks out with the mug of tea, muttering something about adding salt into it instead of sugar.
"If you're going to add salt in it, the salt's in the top right cabinet!" you call after him, suppressing a smile.
He comes back with the same mug of tea, wordlessly shoving it at you.
You take a sip and smile. "It's perfect. Thanks."
"Anything else you need, my queen?" he mocks, looking at you with his "ugly face," as you've so dubbed it.
"Yeah. I'd love it if you could stop making that ugly face. It's making me sick," you say, drinking your tea. Closing your eyes, you suppress a girly giggle – he called you his queen, even if he meant it mockingly.
The boy grudgingly obeys and changes his facial expression to a more neutral one. "Kings are supposed to be on top; I'm not supposed to obey anyone," he grumbles. "I'm the king."
"Yeah, kings don't obey anybody save for food, wine, and their wives," you mutter while rolling your eyes. "I think I'm delirious right now. Would you leave? I'm going to sleep." Handing your mug to the reluctant boy king, you pull the covers up and turn over to face the away from the king. Rolling around a bit, you become a (First Name)-burrito with the blankets.
Kings don't obey anybody save for food, wine, and their wives… Kageyama watches your body slowly rise and fall as you breathe, falling asleep. Does that make you my wife?
The king walks around to the other side of the bed and sits, watching you sleep. (First Name)'s kind of cute… He leans over and kisses your forehead, then pulls away suddenly, cheeks reddening as he realizes what he subconsciously did. Nobody saw that. I didn't do that. Standing up suddenly, he walks out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. He leans against the wall and sinks down to sit on the floor. I wasn't thinking. I shouldn't have done that. This just complicates everything. His forehead resting in the palm of his hand, he slams a fist down on the floor.
"Thank you so much for taking care of (First Name)! She's all better now, thanks to you!" Your mother shakes the king's hands over and over again, smiling up at him.
"It was no big deal," he mutters, cheeks flushing a soft pink as he looks away. "I didn't really do much."
"But you were still there for her! Oh, (First Name), can you get Shoyo to cover for you tomorrow?" Your mother turns to talk to you, tearing herself away from the king and walking over to you.
"Why? What for?"
"The village chief heard you're back and he's coming over to say hi," she says. "Make sure you get the tea ready, okay?"
"I've been here for over a week. It's a bit late, isn't it, popping in now?"
"The chief's a busy man!" She wags a finger at you. "I think his wife might be coming over again, too."
"His wife? What for?"
"She heard you were Kageyama's advisor—" she motions with her head towards the king, who looks at the two of you after hearing his name, "—and she wanted to stop by to say hi after she heard you were back."
"Alright. I'll tell Shoyo to watch my sheep again," you mutter, standing up and opening the door so your wolf companion can run outside into the dusk again. "Make sure you come back safely, Shadow!" you call after the wolf as you follow him outside and make a beeline for Shoyo's house.
"(First Name), how great to see you again!" The village chief, a short, elderly, portly man, trots into your home, followed by his equally rotund wife. Both have salt-and-pepper hair, and smell distinctly of herbs and whatnot. "How have you been?"
"I've been lovely, and you? Can I take your coats?" You hold out a hand, taking the chief's and his wife's coats and hanging them on two chairs.
"My wife and I have been well. How was being an advisor with the king? I see you've brought him home with you," he chortles as he examines the king, who's standing away from the three of you and glaring at the ground. "I guess it didn't turn out too well at the castle towards the end."
"Nope, it wasn't exactly the most peaceful time there," you laugh with him. Kageyama flinches at the implications of your words and plasters on a thin smile, thoughts running through his head like 50 Shoyo clones, all high on sugar. He watches you all the while, and when you glance at him, he looks away and stares at the ground.
"Of course," his wife interjects. "Dear, didn't you want to talk to the king before? Alone?"
"Oh, yes! Of course. Your Royal Highness – well, I guess I should just call you Mr. Kageyama since you're not the king anymore – what do you say we sit down at the table?"
"I'll get you some tea," you say, making your way into the kitchen and bringing out the tea kettle with cups out to the dining table, the drinks having been prepared in advance for their visit.
"(First Name), dear, do you have anywhere private we can talk?"
"What is it?" You look at her as you carry the tray with cookies out, piling some onto two plates and handing one to her, holding the other.
"I need to tell you something. Darling, I'm going to talk to (First Name), alright?" She says, waving to her husband before pulling your arm and leading you out of the kitchen.
The two of you wind up in your room, with the door closed.
"What's wrong?" You can smell the strong scent of ginger wafting off of her person. Fighting the urge to wrinkle your nose, you watch her quietly.
She leans towards you, eyes full of concern as the cookie plate trembles on her lap. "Be careful of men like Kageyama. Men like him, they're always plotting something."
You burrow your eyebrows together. "What do you mean? He's hardly a teenage boy, much less a man," you scoff. "Plus, he's so idiotic, he couldn't possibly be plotting anything."
The elderly lady shakes her head frantically. "I've seen his type. I know it. Take some advice from me, please – he's going to hurt you in the end. He's, he's like, like, like a…" gesticulating wildly with her hands, she purses her lips, thinking. "He's like a… wolf!"
"A wolf? That's impossible. Wolves are far more aggressive than him. Plus, they're more capable and self-dependent. That boy can barely put on a jacket by himself." You let out a small laugh, remembering, and she chuckles as well, imagining the sight.
"In all seriousness, (First Name), that's not what I meant." Her eyes have stopped smiling and her mouth is set in a frown as she sits up straighter. "Be careful around him."
"Like I said, what do you mean?"
She sighs. "You act like he trusts you a lot, and you, him." Holding up a hand before you can interrupt her to protest, she continues. "I haven't seen you two interact, but you're a lot happier nowadays with him around, compared to before."
"Well, before was when I was unwillingly dragged off to court to act as some advisor."
"No, before that, on a day-to-day basis. But that's beside the point. And he seems more comfortable, too, compared to when he stayed at our home. He actually smiles and he watches you all the time."
"What are you trying to say?" You pop a cookie into your mouth and watch the old lady curiously, unperturbed.
"When Kageyama was staying at our home before, when he was actually king, he said something strange. I think it was something along the lines of, 'I can't trust you.'"
You start, eyes widening. "What? Sorry, go on."
"He said something like 'I can't trust you' and then ran off. That sweet butler of his – I don't know how that man puts up with him – Suga, was it? Suga found him and brought him back later that day, around mid-afternoon or some time like that."
Your mouth is hanging open now as you revisit the forest, back to the fateful day where you were told of your appointment to the position of advisor to the king. I can't trust you… that's what that weird guy in the forest said. Was that… was that…?
You're brought out of your thoughts by a soft, wrinkly hand resting on your knee. Raising your head to look at the village chief's wife, who's watching at you, you force a wan smile onto your face.
"Be careful, (First Name). I will never forgive him if he hurt you."