He was less focused than before, since when she stepped in, he actually looked up— unlike before, where he didn't even notice her presence.
\"Why are you studying again?\" Yujia questioned, sitting down next to him again and placing the tray on her lap.
Zixu blinked. \"I had nothing better to do.\"
\"You're sick. When you're sick, you need to get rest, and let your immune system—\"
Halfway through, Yujia's words trailed off. She realized that people of this time had no comprehension of an immune system, white blood cells, or any of that knowledge. Still, however, people of this time should know to rest whenever sick. That was common sense.
She corrected herself, \"I mean, let your body have the opportunity to get better.\"
Zixu did set down the book on the page he was on. \"How will I be prepared for the imperial examinations then?\"
\"You've been studying for the past few days. I'm sure you'll pass.\"
At this, a frown surfaced on his face. He quickly smoothed out his expression, though, calmly saying, \"I lost around two days to study because of you, from that time in the forest to the time I helped you out. I can't just 'pass' this set of exams. I have to get first place.\"
Yujia bit the inside of her cheek. She glanced down.
A silent moment passed between them, but then Zixu said, \"It'll be fine. You can just make up for it by helping me study later.\"
\"Ah,\" Yujia nodded, replying, \"I'm not sure how qualified I will be for that, but I'll try. On the other hand…\" she picked the bowl of medicine up, handing it over to him, \"you should drink this.\"
Zixu reached out for it. When he took it from her, he held the bowl close to him. One hand picked up the spoon, but then he paused, setting the spoon down. His hand reached up to his head, pressing against the side of it.
Seeing this, Yujia quickly asked, \"What's wrong?\"
\"I've just been having a headache ever since waking up,\" Zixu admitted, \"and now I'm feeling a bit dizzy. But it's not a big deal.\"
He dropped his hand back to the spoon, but as he picked it up, Yujia observed his expression. In particular, she noticed his crinkled eyebrows as if he was trying to squeeze away the headache. He wasn't even properly looking at the medicine bowl as he tried to take a spoonful from it. His hands were also trembling just a bit, perhaps from his lack of energy.
\"Do you need me to help you?\" she finally proposed.
It almost pained her to watch him struggle so much with drinking the medicine when she knew that there was a quicker and more efficient way if she just helped him.
Zixu paused. He stared at the bowl, looked up at her, then finally nodded. \"That would be appreciated.\"
It seemed like Zixu understood the concept of getting help when he clearly needed it as well.
Yujia took the bowl from him. With her steadier hands, she filled the spoon with the medicine, then held it out to his mouth. She placed the bowl underneath the spoon.
Carefully, Zixu sipped at that spoonful, but he quickly winced.
\"It's burning,\" he noted.
\"Aw, come on,\" Yujia retorted, \"It can't be that hot. At least not compared to that scalding tea you spilled over my hand.\"
\"You're my Physician Yang; shouldn't you be more careful with these things?\" Zixu muttered back after a light cough.
\"'My Physician Yang'? When did I become 'your' physician?\"
Yujia laughed. If only she were a qualified doctor. Her past life would've been so much easier. Her current experience in this world would be so much better as well, probably.
But at least, compared to before, she didn't regret the career path of the artist as much. At least, because of this, she got to meet people like Yu Zixu, her master, Ye Yunhe, or Bo Zhizhong. She likely would've never known them this well if she hadn't been an artist.
Trading those years of misery in the modern world for these current experiences and relationships would be worth it, Yujia supposed. Fate had a funny way of letting things play out.
Meanwhile, at her question, Zixu only replied, \"You're Physician Yang. You're my junior sister. You were my younger brother at one point in time. And you also promised to be my teacher too, but you never showed me anything more than a few painting techniques. I guess I was so used to saying 'my' that you happened to become 'my' Physician Yang as well.\"
\"Alright, alright,\" Yujia finally relented. She held the spoon of medicine up to her lips, gently blowing at it to cool it down. Then, she held it out to Zixu again, saying, \"Here. Is this better?\"
Zixu carefully sipped at it again, this time drinking all of it.
Yujia exhaled deeply as she filled the spoon again. After she helped it cool down a little, she sighed again, \"Ah— why is Noble Yu just so delicate…?\"
Zixu didn't take any offense or humor from this. He replied seriously, \"If you think this is bad, Ziyang is far more fragile than me.\"
\"Right. Your younger brother— how has he been these past few days?\" Yujia asked, tilting her head. She dipped the spoon into the liquid again.
\"The usual, I guess.\" Zixu's eyes cast down. \"Nothing better, nothing worse.\"
\"Well, I suppose he is on the same boat as me.\" Yujia took a jab at her consistently poor health.
Zixu responded, \"Not necessarily. At least you know the reason behind yours— poison. You have a chance at curing yourself. With Ziyang… I don't know if he'll ever fully recover.\"
He sipped at the medicine again, but this time, there was hesitation in his actions. Yujia could sense the air in the room growing heavy, so she swiftly changed topics, \"You don't have any other siblings, right?\"
Zixu shook his head. \"No.\"
\"I'm surprised, considering how many concubines your father has.\"
\"And you are supposed to be one of them.\"
He smiled. Yujia smiled at his smile.
\"But here I am, sneaking into the Yu Villa as some Noble Zhuang,\" she hummed with a grin.
\"If my father knew, he would be furious.\"
\"But will he know?\"
\"Of course not,\" Zixu assured.
The last bit of medicine filled up Yujia's spoon. She held it out for him, watching him finish it all. \"How bitter is it?\"
Zixu answered, \"Bitter, but not too bad.\"
\"Last time, when you bought me medicine, you bought those candied fruits as well, to help chase away the bitterness,\" Yujia remarked, \"I feel bad that there's none here with me. I do have one sweet steamed bun left, but it's all cold by now, and I don't know if it's any good…\"
\"That's alright. It's just some bitterness— I can stand it,\" Zixu said with a tilt of his head, \"You can still repay that past favor by helping me study, you know.\"
\"How do you want me to do that again?\" Yujia narrowed her eyes while she stood up, placing the tray and empty bowl back on the table.
Holding out the book he was studying, Zixu explained, \"Just test me on this content.\"
Yujia took it from him, flipping through the pages. \"Alright… Then… who was—\"
Her words were interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Yujia looked over, seeing Shen Li— Zixu's servant boy— walking in.
When Shen Li saw that Zixu was awake, he immediately walked forward, bowing deeply. \"Young Master, you're… awake. This servant knows that what I've done is deeply wrong—\"
Zixu waved his hand. \"You just visited your sick sister. There's nothing wrong with that. When have I ever been against it? She is your only remaining relative. It is natural for you to act this way.\"
Voice becoming a little softer, Shen Li said in response, \"Then, this servant thanks Young Master for being magnanimous.\"
Yujia, seeing this and that Shen Li was back, stood up. It was time to go.
She handed the book back to Zixu, clasping her hands in front of her in the normal style that men used. \"Since he's back, and it's getting late, I'll be leaving.\"
\"Mhm,\" Zixu took the book back, but he closed the pages as he placed it next to him. With half-lidded eyes— seemingly, sleep was getting back to him again— he told her, \"Farewell then, Junior Brother. I'm afraid I cannot send you off, but Shen Li will.\"
\"Sure. I left those steamed buns I brought earlier on the table. Make sure you try those out too, when you have more of an appetite,\" Yujia added, \"and don't study too much. Get rest, for real.\"
\"Of course, of course, Physician— I mean— Junior Brother.\"
With another bow, Yujia turned. She couldn't stay here forever. Her job of taking care of Zixu was complete.
It was time to return to Lingxin.