Chapter 13: Hai Nan (i)
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
T/N: (i) Hai Nan is a tropical island located in the southernmost part of China, it is famous for beaches and the warm weather. The character Hai (海) means ocean and Nan (南) means south.
“Eh, hmm…” Li Sui changed the direction of massaging; he also used a bit more force than before. Li Sui was meticulous, he massaged every inch of Lu Shang’s legs. Meanwhile, Lu Shang didn’t say a word but he didn’t move either.
It was rare for them to have such a peaceful moment together, so Li Sui took the gloves off and used his bare hands instead. Lu Shang only glanced at Li Sui a bit, but he didn’t stop Li Sui. The swelling wasn’t too bad, especially since Lu Shang was skinny, it didn’t show all that much. If it wasn’t someone like Li Sui, who was always with Lu Shang, that person probably wouldn’t notice. After massaging for a while, the stiff muscles loosened up. Li Sui changed his posture a bit, but that made Lu Shang cough instead.
“Does it hurt?”
Lu Shang waved his hand; he covered his mouth and shook his head.
Li Sui retracted his hands, the parts between his thumb and index finger were sore, most likely due to prolonged strain. Li Sui rubbed his hands, when he returned to massaging Lu Shang, his strength was a lot lower than before. As Li Sui continued massaging the person lying in bed, the latter became completely quiet. Li Sui raised his head to find Lu Shang asleep once again, his face still looked pale and sickly, he looked just like a person made from paper.
A doctor later entered to examine Lu Shang, he noticed slight bruises on Lu Shang’s arms and legs. When the doctor asked Li Sui about the bruises, he froze. Li Sui didn’t think he was using too much strength; he didn’t see any signs when he was massaging Lu Shang either. However, bruises don’t lie, if there were bruises on him, then Li Sui must had somehow hurt him. The bruises only showed after Lu Shang had fallen asleep.
“You used too much strength.” The doctor wasn’t blaming Li Sui, but he did suggest letting the nurse do it next time.
Li Sui stared at the purple patches on Lu Shang, self-hatred was written all over his face.
“Taking care of patients isn’t as easy as it seems.” The doctor patted Li Sui’s shoulder understandingly, he tried comforting Li Sui, “You have never experienced something like this, it’s natural that you couldn’t do it perfectly.”
Li Sui nodded his head but couldn’t stop himself from feeling sad. He blamed himself for not being sensitive enough, especially since Lu Shang didn’t hide his expressions either. Li Sui felt like such a failure, he was the one that suggested staying to help, he was also adamant about massaging Lu Shang. But in truth, he wasn’t able to help with anything, worse still he hurt Lu Shang.
Li Sui had never taken care of someone, nor had anyone taken care off him before. Lu Shang was the one who taught him the little details of everyday life, like blowing his hair dry before sleep, using mouthwash and toothbrush or shaving his beard with foam…. Li Sui slowly realized, he couldn’t even take care of himself, why did he think he could take care of a recovering patient?
Without even knowing, he had given out another worthless blank cheque.
In the afternoon, Aunt Lu arrived, bringing a pot of porridge and soup. The first thing she did after walking into the room, was to give Li Sui a change of clothes. She let Li Sui take a shower and change into the clean clothes. The private room had a shower room inside, all the shampoo and other items were provided. When Li Sui left the shower room, he saw Lu Shang leaning off of the bed, dry heaving. Lu Shang’s eye whites were a little red. Aunt Lu was trying to comfort him by patting his back.
Li Sui sat at the side of the bed, he lifted the upper part of Lu Shang’s body, letting Lu Shang lean on his legs and embracing Lu Shang, while looking at Aunt Lu’s doubtful gaze.
Aunt Lu mouthed the words, ‘Side-effects of the surgery,’ to Li Sui.
Lu Shang didn’t have any food in the past days, so he wasn’t able to throw anything up. After dry heaving for a while, Lu Shang was exhausted, his body sank into Li Sui’s lap as he felt the warmth of the younger man’s embrace. Li Sui gently rubbed Lu Shang’s tense temples, seeing the tears hanging at the corner of Lu Shang’s closed eyes, he felt obligated to wipe them away.
“I made two sets of food; you should have some too.” Aunt Lu took out a few more lunchboxes.
Li Sui thought in silence, then he asked, “Is he like this every time he gets sick?”
“Yeah. He’d start vomiting every time he eats something, same goes for drinking water. But I heard from the nurses that this is normal behavior, he will be fine after around two days, but this period is quite grueling.”
Hearing that, Li Sui lowered his head, with a soft voice he said, “Lu Shang?”
His eyelashes trembled a little, but he did not wake up.
After Li Sui ate the food, Aunt Lu brought in a jar of hot water. Looking at Li Sui, she said, “Xiao Li, help Lu Lao Ban change clothes, would you? I will bring the dirty ones home to wash.”
There was no awkwardness, it was as if that was the natural thing to do, perhaps it was because Aunt Lu truly believed they were a couple. Aunt Lu was very sensitive to the mood, this was evident from how she acted at home. When both Lu Shang and Li Sui were home, she would avoid entering their sights. Li Sui felt weird saying ‘no, we are not in a relationship,’ so he just nodded and locked the door after Aunt Lu left.
Li Sui considered finding a nurse to do it instead, but the second he imagined a stranger touching Lu Shang, he felt disgruntled. He was only helping Lu Shang take a shower, he comforted himself.
The action by itself was easy, since Lu Shang was asleep, it was even more convenient. If he were to be conscious, Li Sui wasn’t sure if he would have the courage to do this. When he was taking Lu Shang’s clothes off, he began to feel like he was in way over his head, he couldn’t stop glancing at Lu Shang’s naked body.
Lu Shang led a very healthy life, he laid on the bed for a few days and the surgery scars were almost completely healed. Every accidental touch of Lu Shang was like lighting up a fire, the back of Li Sui’s shirt was soaked with sweat just from cleaning the upper half of Lu Shang’s body. Before Li Sui took Lu Shang’s pants off, he decided to close the curtains and turn the lights off. Li Sui wasn’t being dramatic, he knew that they were both males, and there was nothing problematic about seeing a friend’s naked body. But the problem was he had never considered Lu Shang as his friend, knowing that he himself harbored such thoughts for Lu Shang made him feel guilty.
After he helped Lu Shang change clothes, he laid Lu Shang back on the bed and pulled the blanket up. Li Sui washed and dried up with the towel, as he did that, he realized his whole back was wet. A certain body part of his was annoyingly honest as well, so Li Sui had no other choice but to go take another cold shower himself.
Through the half-transparent glass separation, Li Sui could vaguely make out the person lying in bed. Li Sui leaned on the wall, taking in a big breath, he sped up the motion of his hands. His hands that just touched Lu Shang’s bare skin, were now wrapping around his own member. That thought alone made Li Sui feel insanely good. He felt his senses growing bigger, in his hazy mind was a sense of lust like no other.
It was as if a tuft of grass (ii) was growing in his heart, after the past year of living together, the plant was watered and fed. The plant grew along the cracks on the walls where his lusts were kept hidden, when he finally noticed the breach, it had already grown to a proportion impossible to get rid of. The walls in his heart were completely smashed.
T/N: (ii) The grass mentioned in the raws was Urtica laetevirens, the author called them “tickly grass”, which is also what we usually call them in Chinese.
“Will you be coming tomorrow?” Li Sui asked when Aunt Lu was about to leave.
“Of course I will. Lu Lao Ban needs nutrients more than anything now, I’m afraid he won’t be used to hospital food.”
Li Sui nodded, he threw away his pride and asked further, “You will bring a change of clothes tomorrow too?”
The emotions in Li Sui eyes made Aunt Lu blush, she replied “yes” after a while. Li Sui on the other hand was happy with the answer, he felt a hint of anticipation rose in his heart.
Lu Shang rested in the room for over a week, that was when he finally looked less sickly. His body was frail to begin with, so even if the wounds from the surgery healed, he still lacked strength. Li Sui felt his heart tighten as he saw Lu Shang lack even the strength to stand up.
In the afternoon, Uncle Yuen visited and he began reporting different matters to Lu Shang. Lu Shang leaned on the bed’s headboard, but he looked a lot better than before. When it came to work-related things, Lu Shang always seemed to have unlimited strength. Li Sui buried his head into his drinking water, but his ears were actively listening. Before, he never cared about Lu Shang’s work, one reason was that he didn’t understand, another was because he believed Lu Shang was a sturdy wall that will never collapse. However, after cohabiting for over a year, he knew better then to be deceived by Lu Shang’s calm and collected appearance. No matter how great a person he was, and no matter how capable he seemed, he was still a normal human being. Every human being would be fatigue after working too hard, Lu Shang was no different.
“The project at the seaside is the most urgent, the first construction draft is done, they are waiting for you to confirm the building project. A lot of rumors surfaced in the last ten days of your absence; everyone says you must be involved in some sort of incident as you took the construction project. Lawyer Xe WeiLan was so annoyed that he said…”
“What did he say?”
Uncle Yuen glanced at Li Sui and said, “He said you went abroad with Li Sui to enjoy life.”
“Puuuu——” Li Sui spurted all the water in his mouth out, attracting both of the other males’ gazes. “Sorry.” Li Sui waved his hand.
“Well done.” Lu Shang said without any expression on his face, he continued, “Greet old Dr. Leung for me, arrange for my discharge tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!?” Uncle Yuen and Li Sui gasped in unison.
“That’s too reckless…” Uncle Yuen looked hesitant in following through with Lu Shang’s request. Uncle Yuen was even older than Lu Shang’s father, if he were to play the ‘senior card,’ even Lu Shang had to respect him.
“The more we let this persist, the harder it will be to deal with.” Lu Shang cleared his throat, “Okay, then it’s decided.”
Uncle Yuen tried convincing Lu Shang in another way, “You can’t just go to the island like this. You might still need the ventilator, also what about the regular injections and examinations?”
“I’ll bring Li Sui.”
“He is a child himself; how could he take care of you?”
Hearing that, Li Sui couldn’t stop himself from looking at Uncle Yuen, feeling like he was scolding him.
“Then bring two caretakers along.”
Uncle Yuen was out of options, Lu Shang was stubborn, he knew that very well. If he tried to say more, it would just sound like he was crossing the line, as he was still just an employee.
“I will go arrange the car.” Uncle Yuen left the sentence behind and exited the room.
The atmosphere turned heavy quickly; Li Sui didn’t approve of Lu Shang leaving the hospital either, but he knew he shouldn’t express that. Li Sui looked at Uncle Yuen’s disappearing figure and whispered, “Uncle Yuen seemed to be very angry.”
Lu Shang waved for Li Sui to come over, he waited patiently for Li Sui to get closer. Patting Li Sui’s head, Lu Shang said, “He has my best interests in mind. However, there are things that are best kept under the rug and away from Uncle Yuen. Do you understand?”
Li Sui nodded his head, not sure if he had comprehended it fully himself.
The next evening, they boarded a private jet. Uncle Yuen hired two caretakers to follow along the trip, he nagged Lu Shang the whole journey to the airport. The island’s temperature was warmer than where Lu Shang lived, so all the clothes Aunt Lu put into the cardboard box were summer clothes; she even packed a pair of matching couple pajamas.
Li Sui had never gotten on a plane before, so he extended his neck and poked around the plane. Lu Shang let Li Sui take the window seat, sadly the timing was unsatisfactory, so Li Sui couldn’t see much out the window.
“Let’s book a morning one for the return flight.” Lu Shang swallowed the medicine, then he returned the glass of water to the caretakers.
Li Sui turned his head to Lu Shang excitedly, “When are we coming back?”
Their jet hadn’t even landed yet, and this child was already looking forward to the return trip. Lu Shang laughed lightly, “Depends, if things are done quickly, then around two weeks.”
The sky turned dark, so there was actually nothing to look at; Li Sui lost interest quickly after sticking his face up to the window for a while. Lights were dim inside the jet, the window reflected Lu Shang’s face. Li Sui turned around and saw Lu Shang sleeping. The blanket that was on Lu Shang’s chest had slid down to the seat beside him.
Lu Shang was always quiet; he was quiet during sleep, dining, and work. He would not make a shred of sound for the whole day as long as no one actively talked to him. Li Sui tucked the blanket up, accidentally touching Lu Shang’s hand; Li Sui noticed they were abnormally hot. Li Sui’s hand reached for Lu Shang’s forehead, just as he suspected, Lu Shang was having signs of a fever.
Li Sui remembered what old Dr. Leung said and an alarm sounded off in his heart. Li Sui was about to call for the caretakers but a hand stopped him.
Lu Shang opened his eyes; his somber eyes were dimmer than usual. Lu Shang didn’t speak, but Li Sui understood what Lu Shang was trying to say. ‘Don’t worry.’
Li Sui replied, “No, old Dr. Leung said it’s especially dangerous if you get a fever at this stage.”
Lu Shang seemed to be very tired, he looked as if he was holding something back. He spoke with a meek voice, “I’m fine, I can still handle this. If it gets any worse, I’ll tell you. So, rest easy.”
How could Li Sui ‘rest easy’? Li Sui was so nervous that he put his hand on Lu Shang’s forehead every so often, he also looked around as he worried the caretakers might notice. Li Sui knew Lu Shang wasn’t really asleep, so he continued persuading Lu Shang with a small voice. The latter sighed slightly, then he lifted his closed eyelids, looking at Li Sui with pleading eyes, “Listen to me this time, please?”
When Lu Shang put it like that, could Li Sui still bring himself to object? Of course not. Li Sui settled down on the seat beside Lu Shang, he stopped talking. Li Sui held onto Lu Shang’s arm, always alert of the slight changes in Lu Shang’s body temperature.
Li Sui knew what Lu Shang was thinking, if he told the caretakers about the fever now, they would definitely head back to the airport. The events that would follow weren’t hard to imagine either, their trip to the island would definitely be curbed.
No other strangers were on the jet, under the dim lights, Li Sui could see Lu Shang’s frowning face. Lu Shang’s face was always void of redness from blood, but now with a slight fever, his face looked flushed, emphasizing the whiteness of the rest of his skin. Seeing Lu Shang, Li Sui couldn’t help feeling heartbroken.
Is it worth it? Was this worth hurting yourself like this?