This story is set after chapter 176, and references events that happened in the last few chapters. Some of the dialogue is taken directly from the chapter.
*Note: I changed the spelling of Yoon's name from my previous story ("Yun") because most translations appear to be using "Yoon" instead.
Yoon hadn't slept for days. Was it days? It seemed like days.
His brain pounded dully in his skull and there was a terrible ache behind his eyes, but he couldn't complain. Not with how much everyone else had been going through in the past few days. Just one glance at Kija, and you could see the tightness in his face, the strain in his eyes. Jae-ha was the same, except that he was also coated in smoke and ash, due to his recent retrieval of Yona and Hak.
Shin-ah's face was neutral, as always, but he did look a bit paler than usual, and his eyes held a quiet, burning intensity, which was saying something, given their natural power.
And then there was Yona and Hak. When Jae-ha swept in, only a bit ago, with Yona bundled in his arms, for a second Yoon had feared the worst. Jae-ha had quickly handed her off to Kija, with the quick command "Yoon, please tend to her wounds," before leaping off to get Hak. Yoon had quickly shaken off the fear, comforted both by Yona's return and the straightforward tone of Jae-ha's voice. Yoon knew that if Yona were truly injured, the dragons would be in a more agitated state. He instantly became calm, switching into doctor-mode as he directed Kija to a nearby tent.
After helping Yona change into a fresh pair of robes, discarding her ashy dress in a heap outside the tent, Yoon had carefully wiped her face clear of soot, checking for signs of burns or other injuries. He bit back his disgust when he reached her legs, noting the chafing around her ankles from where she had been chained. Gently, he wiped them clean and applied one of his ointments before wrapping them with gauze.
He was just finishing when Jae-ha and Hak entered the tent, Hak leaning heavily on Jae-ha's shoulders for support. Yoon hurried over to Hak, but Hak only had eyes for Yona. "Yona! Is she…?"
Yoon smiled tiredly at his concern. "She's okay, Hak. I didn't find any major burns or injuries. My biggest concern now is her throat and lungs, although it doesn't appear to be very serious," he added quickly, noting Hak's darkening expression. "Do you know how long she was exposed to the smoke?" he asked.
"Ah, umm, maybe… a few minutes…or no, well…" Hak's response was dazed, his eyes unfocused. Yoon mentally kicked himself for asking. "Never mind," he said quickly, "Jae-ha, can you help him down onto the mat?"
Jae-ha swiftly acquiesced, lowering Hak as gently as possible so as not to agitate any of his wounds. Yoon kept his face straight and his hands steady as he examined Hak's wounds, which were many. Burns, cuts, bruises. Luckily, most of them appeared to be superficial, nothing life-threatening. Yoon quickly and skillfully set about bandaging them, cleaning them and applying ointment where necessary. Throughout it all, Hak remained half-conscious, causing Yoon to finally scold "Hak, get some rest. Yona is ok. Everyone is ok." He added silently, mostly thanks to you.
Hak seemed to accept this, as he closed his eyes completely and tilted his head back, relaxing on the pillow behind him, finally giving himself up to his exhaustion. Yoon shook his head in wonder; he never ceased to be amazed at the stamina and strength of this aptly titled "dark dragon".
Yoon rose, Hak's bloody and ashy overcoat and robes in his arms, wondering vaguely if they should be washed or burned instead. Afterall, they were already halfway there. He sighed, knowing he could never burn the man's signature coat and already internally debating the best way to get out the bloodstains and the stench of smoke when the tent flap pulled back to allow the four dragons to enter.
Shin-ah silently moved into his preferred "watch-dog" position, crouching at the head of Yona and Hak's sleeping forms. He peered at them with his watchful gaze, observing every ragged breath and gasp they drew.
Jae-ha, Kija, and Zeno remained standing at the front of the tent, looking down at the two of them quietly.
"Yeah, we'll have to stay put awhile," Yoon said, feeling the adrenaline that had been powering him through beginning to fade away.
"No helping it. Relax and get better, you two," Jae-ha addressed the sleeping patients.
Yoon shot a critical eye at Jae-ha. "Hey, you too, Jae-ha." Jae-ha had most likely also inhaled some smoke. Plus, he had recently left battle. Yoon was sure he had some injuries to show for it.
"Well, I did get beat up by Kija…" Jae-ha teased, running a hand through his hair.
Kija scowled and crossed his arms. "Liar. You managed to dodge almost all my attacks." Yoon bit his lip to keep from smiling at Kija's peevish tone.
Turning his back to the dragon's lighthearted bickering, he prepared to leave the tent, calling over is shoulder "I'll go find out where we can get medicine." With his current supplies, there wasn't much he could do for smoke inhalation, unfortunately, but keep them hydrated and resting, with clear open airways.
He pulled back the flap of the tent only to find himself in a sea of weary, beat-up faces. He stopped, stunned, as all the soldiers began talking at him at once.
"Yoon! We have severely wounded soldiers over here!"
"My friend's drenched in blood!"
"We don't have enough doctors! Please help us!"
Yoon nearly stumbled back at the deluge of demands. He felt his headache come back, with a roaring strength. "Uhh, but I was going to…"
Behind him, Shin-ah's voice cut across the commotion. "Yona says, 'Don't worry, go ahead,'" he translated. Yoon had no idea how Shin-ah picked that up from the girl he had previously thought was unconscious, but apparently it was true, as Yona gave a weak wave of her hand, signaling him to go.
"I'll be right back!" he promised, slipping quickly out of the tent, knowing it was a lie even as the words left his lips.
It was at least four hours later that Yoon finally made his way back to Yona and Hak's tent. He trusted they were okay, (after all, they had the four dragons to look after them!) but he wanted to make sure with his own eyes.
Darkness was falling and Yoon couldn't remember ever feeling this tired. His headache had died down while he had been working, thanks to the adrenaline and gaining a 'second wind', so to speak. Now, however, with no patients grasping at him with bloody hands, no wounds that needed tending or fevers needing treating, Yoon felt it coming back once more. Water. I need water. Water and rest, he thought, trudging across the campground.
He was just about to enter their tent when the though struck him: Damn. I forgot to get some medicine for them! He sighed tiredly and rubbed his dry, achy eyes. He had gotten so caught up in the crisis, he had forgotten his original mission. Could he find medicine for them this late? Yoon was sure he could, but he groaned inwardly at the unexpected additional task. Maybe I'll just check on them first. Afterall, he was already here.
He entered the tent and was surprised to see both Yona and Hak sitting up, Hak munching on some meat he had acquired somewhere and Yona sipping what looked like a medicinal tea. They both looked up as he entered.
"Hey, Yoon," Hak greeted him.
"Yoon!" Yona's voice sounded weak and a bit raspy, but it was there, a definite improvement from earlier.
It was a testament to how much Yoon had matured, as well as how tired he was, that he felt simple relief looking at them. Previously, he might have felt insecure or jealous that someone else had taken care of his friends, that perhaps he wasn't needed after all. But at the moment, all he felt was reassurance. It was nice to have some of the burden lifted, and now so many people were here who also cared about the princess and her devoted bodyguard.
"Hey guys," Yoon greeted them. "How are you feeling?"
"Great!" Yona croaked out, making an energetic little fist and pumping it for emphasis, although her voice and wan face belied her enthusiasm.
Hak smirked at her. "Don't get too worked up there, princess. You might pass out." Yona swatted at him half-heartedly and Hak caught her fist without really trying. His eyes were full of fondness and for the first time in a while, he looked truly relaxed.
Hak turned his gaze to Yoon, and his eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the boy's state. "We're fine, so why don't you get some rest? You look like you could use it."
"Yeah," Yona agreed gently, concern working its way across her features.
As if his body was taking their suggestion as permission to fall to pieces, Yoon wavered, his legs suddenly shaking uncontrollably beneath him. His vision swam, and black spots began to blossom across his vision.
It happened too suddenly for Yoon to do anything. One minute he was standing, the next he was…In Hak's arms? Yoon might not have been able to react, but the dark dragon had, and fast. In an instant he had risen to his feet and come across the tent. His hands swept under the boy as his legs gave out.
"Dammit, Yoon, are you okay?" Yoon tried to look up into the face of the man holding him, but all he saw was swirls of gray and vague outlines. Hak carefully maneuvered Yoon across the tent where an anxious Yona was sitting and set him in a reclining position between their two sleeping mats.
"Yoon. Yoon." Hak prodded Yoon's cheek, lightly but insistently.
"Mmm'okay, I'm okay," Yoon slurred. If he had his wits about him, he might be embarrassed by the situation. He knew enough of medical training to know that the physician should take care of himself first, that he was no use to his patients if he was incapacitated. Yet here he was being supported by his two injured friends. At the moment, though, he couldn't seem to feel anything except complete and utter exhaustion.
"I don't…do you think…? Yoon, can…me?"
Yoon faded in and out of reality, catching snatches of conversation as he did so. He suddenly felt something cool and wet being pressed to his lips.
"Come on, Yoon, I need you to drink this. It's just water," Hak's voice, laced with worry, cut in through the haziness.
Yoon opened his mouth obediently and let the cool liquid run over his tongue. He sputtered a bit, but was grateful for the water, already feeling more awake. Hak's face came into view, as did Yona's, anxiously peering at him from above.
With a bit of chagrin, Yoon realized he was resting against one of Hak's shoulders, with one of his arms tucked around Yoon's back, supporting him. He blinked dazedly up at them.
"Yoon! You need to tell us when you're not feeling well." Yona's voice was barely more than a whisper, but it still carried the authority of a princess and the concern of a friend.
"She's right. You scared the hell out of us, Yoon." Hak's voice was also rough and bordered between stress and relief.
"Sorry," Yoon murmured. "I didn't mean to let it go this far."
Hak and Yona exchanged a look, before Hak guiltily replied "No, I know. I'm sorry, I'm not angry, just…worried."
Yoon made an indecipherable noise. "Thanks, guys," he said shakily, starting to sit up a bit. Hak said nothing, just adjusted to let the boy sit up on his own.
"Have some more water."
Yoon took it and took a few more sips. He no longer felt thirsty, but forced himself to sip it anyways, knowing that his lack of thirst didn't mean he didn't need it.
After a few minutes of silence, he set the cup down. "Okay, I really need to get some sleep…"
He started to get up but felt a strong, calloused hand on his shoulder.
Yona smiled at him, her own large eyes mirroring the exhaustion he felt. She patted the mat beside her.
Hak spoke for her. "Why not sleep here? You don't look much up for walking, and we have room."
Yoon might have felt a bit embarrassed about sleeping beside them, like a child between his parents. He had stopped sleeping next to Yona awhile ago, most nights resting alongside Zeno or Shin-ah instead. But it was clear from their faces they weren't treating him as a child, just as concerned friends. Besides, if some emergency should happen in the night and one of them needed care, he would be in the prime position to help them. It made sense, from a clinical point of view.
Yoon settled back down, helping himself to Hak's pillow and blankets. "Alright then."
"Hey!" Hak teased. "Don't you want to share with Yona? She's smaller."
"Nah…" Yoon mumbled, his voice muffled by the pillow that he currently had his face jammed into. "She steals all the blankets."
Above him, he could hear Hak chuckling softly. "Can't argue with that," he said.
Yoon heard a rustle, and a soft "ow!", then felt the shifting of his two friends as they laid down beside him. He smiled to himself before wearily dropping into a deep, dreamless sleep.