Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
In the middle of the night, Zhang Jue started having a high fever.
Chen Boqiao did not know when Zhang Jue started burning up. He and Zhang Jue did not sleep in the same room.
A few hours ago, when the car got to the safe house, Zhang Jue opened his eyes, but he was still intoxicated from the wine.
Chen Boqiao stretched out his hand and waved it in front of Zhang Jue. Seeing that Zhang Jue didn’t move and his eyes were out of focus, he asked, “Can you go upstairs by yourself?”
Zhang Jue listened, thought for a while, nodded, got off the car very obediently, and slowly followed Chen Boqiao upstairs, went into the bedroom and lay on the bed, and went on sleeping peacefully. Zhang Jue slept well, curled up on the side of the bed, with his injured left arm resting on the quilt, his forearm bent, and half of a band-aid was exposed.
The light of the ceiling lamp in the bedroom was a cool white, Zhang Jue was drunk, and thus a flush appeared on his fair skin. Even though he did not move, he no longer looked like a marble statue.
Zhang Jue’s body was flawless and intact. The only wounds visible to the naked eye was the place where he had stabbed himself with the pencil. Unlike Chen Boqiao, who had been in the army for so many years that there were injuries everywhere on his body.
Chen Boqiao crossed his arms and looked at Zhang Jue from the foot of the bed. He thought that Zhang Jue probably had never been in the army and had not been injured much before, or he wouldn’t have started complaining after such a small wound.
He thought again, Zhang Jue was probably one of those quiet, well-behaved good boys when he was young. He was well protected. Traveling across oceans and continents to the Asian League to break out this condemned prisoner who he had a crush on was probably the most rebellious thing he had ever done in his life.
Between Senna Snow Mountain, Ai Jiaxi, Harrison, and a disease that needed him to carry around syringes of medicine, Chen Boqiao wanted to know more, but he did not need Zhang Jue to say it himself. After all, he was never known to be unperceptive. He had eyes to see for himself and brains to think.
The electronic alarm clock on the bedside gave a “beep” on the hour. Chen Boqiao moved from his position. He rummaged in the bedroom for a while, found a thin quilt from the cupboard, and laid it on the sofa in the living room to sleep. The big bedroom bed was left to Zhang Jue who was unconscious.
Chen Boqiao went to the bathroom to undress, calling Pei Shu to inform him that he and Zhang Jue would leave in eight days.
Pei Shu had left Bangkok in the morning and rushed back to the north of the Asian League to meet with an important person in secret. He gave Chen Boqiao an overview of the content of the meeting and the newly formulated plan.
The two talked for a long time, and finally decided to disclose Chen Boqiao’s whereabouts to the President when the cruise ship got halfway through the course and created a public hunt. They desperately needed a chance to impeach the President, so Chen Boqiao would not be arriving in North America with Zhang Jue.
He hung up the phone and was about to rest when Chen Boqiao heard Zhang Jue’s murmurs from the bedroom.
At first, Chen Boqiao thought that Zhang Jue was sleeptalking, but after a few minutes, Zhang Jue still whimpered intermittently, sounding uncomfortable. Chen Boqiao stood up, walked into the bedroom, and turned on the light.
Zhang Jue lay on his back in the middle of the bed.
When the lamp on the ceiling turned on, Zhang Jue moved a bit, raised his right hand, and covered his eyes with the back of his hand. Chen Boqiao approached him and saw that his chapped lips opened. Using a voice that was lower than usual he whispered out incomprehensible, fragmented sentences.
“My meds…” Zhang Jue suddenly said the familiar word to Chen Boqiao, and then removed the hand covering his eyes.
Zhang Jue half-opened his eyes, and with abnormal flushing on his cheeks, said, “It’s cold.” He fumbled and grabbed the quilt, wrapped it around his body, and repeated, “So cold.”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and felt that something was wrong, so he leaned over and put his palm on Zhang Jue’s forehead, and felt it burning.
“Zhang Jue?” Chen Boqiao called out to him, “Can you hear me?”
Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao, as if he was carefully trying to identify who the person was speaking. When Chen Boqiao thought he was going to speak, he slowly closed his eyes, pulled the quilt up a little to cover the top of his head, and hid himself in the quilt.
Chen Boqiao was stunned. Looking at the bulge in the quilt, he was at a loss, so he looked around the room, found the emergency kit, and found a thermometer and a box of fever medication inside.
He took the thermometer and pulled Zhang Jue out of the quilt to measure his temperature. His temperature was at 39 degrees.
Zhang Jue was forcibly exposed to the light and air outside the quilt again, and his complexion did not look very good. He looked unhappy. It was as if his whole being had been steamed through by high fever, and his eyes stared forward blankly.
Chen Boqiao supported Zhang Jue and let him lean back on a pillow. The two were close to each other. Chen Boqiao kept feeling that something was wrong. When he went outside to get water for Zhang Jue, he realized that when most people suffer from a high fever, their pheromone smell would become very strong, but for some reason, Zhang Jue had almost no smell.
However, since everyone was different, Chen Boqiao did not think about it afterwards.
The fever medication was a pill that needed to be swallowed. Chen Boqiao held Zhang Jue’s shoulder up and asked Zhang Jue to sit up again, putting the cup next to Zhang Jue’s mouth, coaxing him, “Drink some water first.”
Zhang Jue opened his mouth, Chen Boqiao tilted his hand slightly, and poured water into Zhang Jue’s mouth. Zhang Jue’s eyes were open, but he was very uncooperative and did not manage to swallow the water. The water slid down along the corner of Zhang Jue’s mouth, dripping onto the clothes and quilt.
In the past, on the battlefield, soldiers with light injuries could not get away from the battlefield. Chen Boqiao had almost zero experience in handling such minor illnesses and pains. He reluctantly put the cup on the bedside table and wiped the water off with a paper towel, and decided to go about it another way, giving Zhang Jue the pill first.
Zhang Jue’s wet clothes made him a little more sober. He sat upright by himself, looking down at the pill in Chen Boqiao’s hand, and he contemplated for a while before he said, “Chen Boqiao, it’s not this one. You got the wrong one.”
Zhang Jue finally stopped being cautious and introverted like before. He called Chen Boqiao by his full name while frowning, but he was not angry. It was as if he gained a little more confidence just because Chen Boqiao clumsily took the wrong medicine.
Chen Boqiao immediately said, “It’s the same medicine, just with a different look.”
Zhang Jue was riddled with high fever and hence more easily deceived than normal. He first looked at the pill suspiciously and questioned, “Really?” Then he looked at the sure look Chen Boqiao was giving him for two seconds, took the medicine and said, “Okay, then.” Then he stuck it in his mouth.
But after that Zhang Jue closed his mouth tightly, he stopped moving despite Chen Boqiao’s effort to get him to wash the pill down with water.
After being in a stalemate for a while, Zhang Jue’s face suddenly dropped.
“It’s a bit bitter.” Zhang Jue said. He stuck his tongue out and licked his upper lips.
There was some undissolved white powder on the tip of his tongue. It was probably because he held the fever medication on his tongue for too long, dissolving the outer casing and releasing the powder contained in it, which made it very bitter. When Chen Boqiao saw this, he passed the cup of water to him again. Zhang Jue took it this time. He gulped down a few mouthfuls. He closed his eyes and lay back on the pillow only after he drank all the water in the cup.
No matter what, the medicine was finally in his system.
Chen Boqiao guarded Zhang Jue for a while, waited until Zhang Jue’s fever subsided and he stopped talking nonsense, then went to sleep outside.
When Chen Boqiao opened his eyes and sat up the next morning, Zhang Jue was standing at the door of the bedroom. Zhang Jue had changed into a loose dark outfit, his skin looking pale and bloodless, and his expression had returned to normal. He looked at Chen Boqiao, “You are awake.”
Zhang Jue’s voice was still a bit muffled, as if he was only half awake.
Without waiting for Chen Boqiao to speak, he said, “Did I have a fever last night?”
Chen Boqiao said yes, Zhang Jue paused and asked, “Was it high?”
“Thirty-nine point one degrees,” Chen Boqiao said, “I gave you fever medication.”
“Thank you,” Zhang Jue said.
Zhang Jue’s sight stayed averted. He didn’t look at Chen Boqiao, nor did he ask Chen Boqiao how the injury on his hand came about. He walked to the coffee table, poured two glasses of water, and handed one to Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao took it, and their fingers briefly touched for a second. Chen Boqiao thought that Zhang Jue’s body temperature was still abnormally high, so he took out the ear thermometer he placed aside and wanted Zhang Jue to take another measurement.
Zhang Jue saw it, took a step back, and looked at the thermometer with an alarmed expression.
“I’m fine already, you can keep it away.” He said to Chen Boqiao, as if the thermometer was some monster.
Chen Boqiao didn’t force him, and he put the thermometer back.
Zhang Jue did not sit down, he was standing by the sofa holding a cup, keeping his distance from Chen Boqiao. He seemed very nervous and uncomfortable.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Chen Boqiao asked him.
Zhang Jue shook his head as if he was thinking about something. After a while, he said, “I have something to do today. I’m going out.”
Chen Boqiao observed Zhang Jue’s expression and asked, “I can’t tag along?”
“It’s a personal matter, I might only come back tomorrow morning” Zhang Jue’s voice became lower and lower, as if he was suppressing some kind of discomfort, and he said to Chen Boqiao, “There are some frozen food in the refrigerator, do you know how to make it?”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue’s face and slowly said, “Not really.”
“It’s all written on the package,” Zhang Jue said, leaning over and picking up the phone that Chen Boqiao had placed on the table, and entered a number, “If it still doesn’t work, just call me, my phone will be on. “
After entering his number, Zhang Jue wanted to put Chen Boqiao’s phone back on the table. Perhaps because his grip was too loose, the phone slipped halfway and fell onto the carpet.
Zhang Jue did not pick it up. He stood up straight and told Chen Boqiao, “The gun and the car are here, and there is money lying around if you need.”
After that, he turned around and went out.
Zhang Jue walked quickly. Chen Boqiao walked to the window to see and soon saw Zhang Jue walking into the alley across the street.
Chen Boqiao picked up his mobile phone first, sat for a few seconds, went back to the room, changed his clothes, put on sunglasses, mask, and hat, took a gun for self-defense, and followed him out.
Zhang Jue may indeed be physically unwell. He walked very slowly, and Chen Boqiao managed to tail Zhang Jue. Zhang Jue did not open the navigation, nor did he go far. He crossed a street and turned into a sketchy alleyway.
At the entrance of the alley, Chen Boqiao observed which door Zhang Jue had entered. Ten minutes later, he walked into the alley to follow Zhang Jue.
There were small hotels on both sides of the alley. The shops’ signages were all peach pink, written in both Thai and English. Most of the hotels’ glass doors had vulgar images and symbols pasted on them, and some had the prices of the rooms up on a sign. There were thick curtains behind the glass doors, which made it difficult to see inside the hotel.
Chen Boqiao took a few steps and heard people enter the alley behind him. He glanced back and saw a pair of young lovers who were about to melt into each other. He politely gave way to them, and the couple passed by him and entered one of the hotels.
Chen Boqiao walked to the door that Zhang Jue entered, pushed open the glass door, lifted the curtain, and walked in. There was a vending machine with a large LED screen in the small lobby. Pictures of the room were shown in turn on the screen.
This was a self-service love hotel without a front desk.
Chen Boqiao approached the vending machine and operated it. Only three rooms in the hotel were ‘locked’, and one room had the longest waiting countdown.
He picked a room and paid for four hours. After paying the money, a key fell out of the vending machine. Chen Boqiao scrutinised the key carefully. The key was thin, with a simple pattern. It was the easiest kind of lock to pick.
At the entrance of the corridor where the room with the longest countdown was, Chen Boqiao called Zhang Jue with his phone.
The soundproofing of the motel was really poor. Chen Boqiao heard the phone ring from inside the room. After a short while, Zhang Jue answered the call.
“What’s wrong?” Zhang Jue asked in a low voice.
Zhang Jue’s voice was weak, but the background sound was very quiet. Chen Boqiao couldn’t tell whether or not there was anyone else in Zhang Jue’s room.
“Are you busy right now?” Chen Boqiao held the phone in one hand and straightened the steel key ring in the other. “I don’t know how to use the stove.”
“What do you want to make?” Zhang Jue asked.
“I want to heat up some bread,” Chen Boqiao said casually, pressing the keyring that he turned into a steel stick on the wall and breaking it into two sections, “I’m hungry.”
Zhang Jue breathed quietly twice, and taught Chen Boqiao, “You can use the oven, just preheat it first.”
“What’s preheating?” Chen Boqiao asked again.
“…you set the temperature to 180 degrees,” Zhang Jue said slowly, “then turn on the oven and wait ten minutes.”
“I see,” Chen Boqiao said, “Thanks.”
“Is there anything else?” Zhang Jue asked again.
“No, are you still busy?” Chen Boqiao lowered his head, put his hand away, and asked Zhang Jue, “Are you working?”
Zhang Jue paused for a while then made a very soft “Yeah”. Chen Boqiao said “I won’t bother you then” and hung up.
Chen Boqiao stood at the corner for a while and walked slowly to the door of the room Zhang Jue was in. He opened the door with the steel stick with ease. There was a very narrow entrance behind the door and a sweet smell that couldn’t be ignored wafting out of it.
The pheromone smell of omega in heat.
Chen Boqiao had been specially trained to resist omegas’ pheromone, but this time the smell was a bit special since it included the bitter apricot and cigarette smell he once smelled on an ‘alpha’.
He closed the door quietly and walked forward into the room.
There was no one else on the bed, only Zhang Jue.
There was the sound of vibration in the air. Zhang Jue was lying halfway with a soft-looking blanket between his legs. His face was red, his legs curled up, and his knees and ankles flushed.
Zhang Jue’s right hand was raised with his wrist resting on his cheek, and a cigarette was sandwiched between his index finger and middle finger. A long section of cigarette ash had accumulated and was attached to the cigarette weakly. The phone was on the pillow and the screen was dark.
Seeing Chen Boqiao come in, Zhang Jue could not react. He stared in the direction of Chen Boqiao blankly, took a drag of the cigarette, and the smoke puffed out of his red lips, dispersing in the air.