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20 The Crown Prince Drinks Tea

    Fu Yushang blames the girl for being too pretty.

    That was his excuse- he wasn't used to talking to pretty girls very much about anything besides complimenting how nice they looked that day- so he thinks that it's somewhat reasonable for him to act like such. Besides, although he doubted he would see that girl again, if he did, he would be sure to respond to her in a way to make himself seem more important.

    With a sigh, he runs his fingers through his loose hair. Even now, hours after the incident, he couldn't stop thinking about it. There was never a time where he was left wordless by anyone. Not even the top government officials could beat him in a debate at times. Yet this girl-

    It was because she was too pretty.

    Pretty girls never talked back to him. They always happily leaned into his flirting. This girl, however... she didn't even respond to Yushang's best card, the "charming smile"! That hurt his self-esteem.

    "Si Shen, say, what do you think about what happened this afternoon?" Yushang spins to Si Shen, who was, as always, waiting quietly behind him.

    Si Shen shrugs.

    "I wish you would talk some more sometime." Yushang nonchalantly poured himself a cup of tea. Most times, maids did things like pouring his tea for him, but in moments like this where Yushang only wanted to talk to Si Shen, he chased all the maids away. "The emperor told you to be my personal guard," he flashed a look at the other, "not a mute."

    Si Shen blinks. "I'm sorry that my quiet tendencies upset Your Highness."

    Although his words were certainly respectful enough, his tone wasn't, but Yushang could care less right now. That was how Si Shen was all the time, careless of the world and how it functioned and only paying attention to his tasks at hand.

    "So, like I asked you before, what do you think about what happened?"

    "I thought it was funny," he replies blankly.

    "Funny? You thought it was funny?"

    Si Shen nods.

    "You thought it was funny." Yushang repeats his words slowly, taking in a deep breath. "... why?"

    "It's not very frequent to see you act like an idiot."

    With gritted teeth, Yushang pushes his chair back and stands up, turning to face Si Shen completely, the cup of tea he was drinking at a moment ago forgotten. "Moving on to insulting me now, is it?"

    Si Shen shrugs.

    Yushang takes another deep breath, reminding him that this was Si Shen, and of course Si Shen would act like this. He didn't know why he was getting so irritated by the smallest of words. Si Shen's speech didn't bother him like this usually. Was it because he was agitated from what happened this morning?

    Smoothly, Yushang calms himself and informs, "Well, Si Shen, I don't think that I was idiotic. I just don't like talking to pretty girls about serious matters." Promptly, afterwards, he sits down and takes another deep drink from his cup.

    The two of them were silent for a few moments. Yushang stares at Si Shen. Si Shen stares back at Yushang.

    "Hey." As usual, it is Yushang to break the silence. "I'm bored. And I'm done with drinking tea. You want to leave the palace again and grab a drink? Just the two of us. I'm thinking classic rice wine."

    Si Shen shakes his head.

    "No? Why?"

    "It's nearing the evening. The emperor does not enjoy it when you go out so late."

    "Am I five, Si Shen?" Yushang scowls, standing back up. "I'm eighteen already. Why does it matter what time of day it is that I go out?"

    "The emperor said so." Si Shen shrugs once more. "And you have to take on more responsibility as the crown prince. There are some scrolls the emperor would like you to review and discuss tomorrow at court."

    A disgusted look appears on Yushang's expression while he thinks of the "scrolls" that Si Shen spoke of. They were reports from the lower level government officials that the emperor himself didn't personally review, leading the task to end up on him. Typically, they were all the same boring material- tax evasion by so and so group of people, proposals of raising positions, new trading alliances between small states- and Yushang hated reading them.

    He enjoyed being crown prince and getting the power that came along with the position, but the fact that half of every day in his life was stuck in a small room, reading scrolls upon scrolls upon scrolls truly tired him out.

    Thinking for a bit, Yushang puts on a grin. "We can care about those scrolls later. Let's go drinking. I really want rice wine now, especially the jars they sell at-"

    "- Your Highness." Si Shen interrupts him mid-sentence, his eyebrows furrowed while he speaks his words clearly. "If you cannot take on this small responsibility when you are crown prince, how will you be able to inherit the position as emperor after your father?"

    Yushang pauses in his actions, taking in what Si Shen just said.

    For a brief moment, the two of them look each other in the eye, silence once again existing between them. Then, Yushang sits back down at the table, filling his cup up with tea again.

    "Alright. Can you get the scrolls for me? I'll work right here."
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