Translated by Zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editors: kai and Kiramekineko
At twelve o’clock noon, after Pei Shu and his consultants arrived in Bangkok, they rushed to a villa area in the southwest of Bangkok without stopping.
His father had bought an estate here many years ago and hired people to take care of it regularly, but it had been idle. He originally thought that this was a house he would never have a chance to live in, but now it came in handy.
On this trip to Bangkok, Pei Shu remained low-key. He claimed to be discussing projects and investigating the market. He brought around ten people and occupied a business jet.
When he arrived at the house, Pei Shu first got guards posted on all sides of the small building and then contacted Chen Boqiao to send the location.
One hour later, an off-road vehicle drove towards the gate of Pei Shu’s house. The front windshield of the vehicle had a tinted function. According to the infrared thermal imaging scanner mounted on the wrought-iron door of the villa, there were two people in the vehicle.
As soon as the subordinate came to report to Pei Shu, Chen Boqiao also called in, “Open the door.”
Pei Shu ordered a subordinate to open the iron door and glanced at the video feed from the subordinate’s tablet before going downstairs. By his understanding of Chen Boqiao’s body shape and habits, the person in the shotgun was Chen Boqiao, so the driver was probably Zhang Jue.
The vehicle drove slowly onto the main road, and finally stopped on the left side of the house, under some lush and tall trees.
Pei Shu walked over briskly and saw the passenger’s door open and Chen Boqiao coming out of the car. He was wearing a light-colored thin linen shirt, his hair was slightly longer than in the video recording on the day of his appearance, and he wore a pair of old-fashioned sunglasses. He looked fresh and like one of those tourists that could be seen everywhere in Bangkok, and not like a wanted criminal.
“Pei Shu.” Chen Boqiao took off his sunglasses and nodded towards him.
Pei Shu found that Chen Boqiao seemed to be doing quite well these days, completely different from the disheveled and fatigued appearance he had imagined his friend would don.
Chen Boqiao walked towards Pei Shu first, and after two steps, he stopped suddenly and looked back as if he remembered something.
“Wait,” Chen Boqiao said as he turned around. He walked back, walked around the front of the car to the driver’s seat, leaned down slightly, and knocked on the window.
Pei Shu followed Chen Boqiao a little closer, watched as the car window rolled down, and Zhang Jue’s face appeared from behind the window.
Zhang Jue also looked a little confused. He looked at Chen Boqiao and asked, “What’s wrong?” He was as pale as Pei Shu remembered, but his hair had gotten longer and was now tied behind him, while his voice was still so soft that Pei Shu almost didn’t catch him speaking.
“Don’t you want to get out of the car?” Chen Boqiao asked Zhang Jue. He paused and said, “It’s 32 degrees today, isn’t it hot in the car?”
Chen Boqiao turned his back to Pei Shu. Pei Shu could not see his face and expression, but listening to him speak to Zhang Jue, his speaking speed seemed to be slower than usual, and he leaned in unnaturally close, making it look like he was trying to coax and tempt Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue did not notice Pei Shu behind Chen Boqiao at all. He only looked at Chen Boqiao intently, with a little hesitation on his face, “Am I going in too?”
Pei Shu cleared his throat and said, “Come in and wait, there’s enough space.”
Chen Boqiao glanced back at Pei Shu, then turned back to open the door for Zhang Jue, Zhang Jue got out of the car, nodded to Pei Shu, and said hello. Pei Shu was a little surprised since he expected Zhang Jue to ignore him completely.
After entering the house, Pei Shu asked his subordinates to take Zhang Jue to the reception room by the swimming pool, while he took Chen Boqiao to the study on the second floor. The personal doctor he brought from the Asian League was waiting in the study to do a medical examination for Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao entered the door, saw the doctor and the equipment in the room, turned around, and asked Pei Shu, “Do we really need all these?”
“Of course,” Pei Shu said concisely. Chen Boqiao had spent half a year in prison after all. Although they could pass information back and forth, the sooner he could get the physical examination done, the better.
Chen Boqiao must have understood the stakes better than him, so he walked over cooperatively, and let the doctor take his blood.
The inspection lasted for more than half an hour. After the doctor went out, Pei Shu informed him, “We’re going to send a few more people on the cruise ship you are taking.”
Chen Boqiao took a sip of tea, nodded, and asked him, “Zhang Jue mentioned to me that after the demonstration at the gate of the Presidential Palace, the Fifth Prison changed its wardens.”
“Yes, we noticed,” Pei Shu stopped and raised his eyebrows at Chen Boqiao, “Zhang Jue is well-informed, huh?”
Chen Boqiao put down his teacup and said nothing.
Pei Shu’s bad habit acted up again and he teased Chen Boqiao, asking, “Isn’t it hard to stay together with an extreme admirer like Zhang Jue for so long?”
But unexpectedly, Chen Boqiao did not remain silent as usual. He paused for a few seconds and defended, “He’s not that extreme.”
Pei Shu was stunned for a second, feeling that something was different, but he couldn’t pinpoint his doubt. The two looked at each other for a moment, and Pei Shu remembered something, and then his tone became grim, “You asked me yesterday, so I asked about the situation of your teammates.”
He handed the thin paper bag on the desk to Chen Boqiao, Chen Boqiao took it and took out the document to look at it. The file was thin because there wasn’t much reliable or confirmed information.
Some of Chen Boqiao’s closest subordinates had gone off the grid completely, and a small number of them were transferred to troops where it was difficult to obtain information. Most of their family members were also affected. Some people lost their jobs overnight and could barely make ends meet, and some suddenly disappeared.
When Chen Boqiao was in prison, Pei Shu had already contacted their family members, but because he was afraid of attracting attention, he could only protect them in secret, and these protections were too weak in the face of the President’s power.
Chen Boqiao lowered his head, flipping through the few pages of documents back and forth. After a long and unbearable silence, Chen Boqiao folded the paper neatly.
“They were with me in the war zone for half a year,” Chen Boqiao said, “we got awarded together.”
Pei Shu looked at him, unable to see his grief and anger. It was as if he was only recounting the past a year ago plainly. Pei Shu had never been in the army and lived with his father in the north. He remembered that the only times he received news from Chen Boqiao was when the man was in the hospital, and the rest of the time he could be seen in news related to the soldiers’ memorial service, a figure of him in a cast offering flowers on the grave.
Chen Boqiao was an important figure, a star in the military world, and the media adored him. Thinking of this, Pei Shu remembered that every time Chen Boqiao left flowers for his dead comrades-in-arms, he seemed to be the same as he was right now. He’d suppress his pain and make himself seem uncaring.
The room seemed to be shrouded in gloom, and it was quiet for a while.
Pei Shu wanted to change the subject, glanced around, and saw a white stain on the edge of Chen Boqiao’s shirt, which looked like dried paint. He pointed and asked, “Boqiao, what is that on your clothes?”
Chen Boqiao regained his senses, looked down, and after thinking for a moment, his expression relaxed a little. He smiled slightly and said, “Zhang Jue did it.”
“How did he do that?”
“I saw him in the bathroom in the morning brushing his teeth,” Chen Boqiao said in a relaxed tone, recalling detail, “It seems that I made him too nervous. He knocked the cup over and dropped the toothbrush. I probably got the stain when I picked up the toothbrush.”
“…” Pei Shu didn’t know what to say for a while, and then he said, “The time he called off the engagement, I told you he had confessed to you, but you didn’t remember.”
He remembered Zhang Jue’s gender and said, “But why does Zhang Jue need a sedative-inhibitor? Isn’t he an alpha? He’s so much taller than when he was in school.”
The medicine Chen Boqiao asked for Zhang Jue had been investigated by Pei Shu thoroughly. The medicines used by the military in North America and the New Independent States were very effective. They were used by people with abnormal pheromones. The demand was small and they had never entered into the Asian League.
Chen Boqiao did not answer directly. He shook his head and said, “It’s very complicated.”
“How complicated can it be?” Pei Shu curled his lips, suddenly coming up with a very ridiculous idea, and immediately shared it with Chen Boqiao. “Could it be that Zhang Jue is actually an Omega, and he saved you in exchange for you having sex with him—— “
“——Pei Shu,” Chen Boqiao seemed to think that Pei Shu’s absurd words were also ridiculous, and the corner of his mouth was twitching. He calmly stopped Pei Shu’s imagination. “You sure have a lot of time today.”
After the two discussed the details of Chen Boqiao’s post-cruise plan, it was almost time.
In order to make his itinerary look more realistic, Pei Shu had to have dinner with the director of the hospital he bought. Pei Shu sent Chen Boqiao out. Just as he pressed his hand on the doorknob, Chen Boqiao suddenly asked from behind, “Pei Shu, what is the name of the hospital you bought?”
Pei Shu told Chen Boqiao of the original name of the hospital and proudly introduced, “The Bangkok one is the headquarters, with advanced concepts and great business. The brand has just been changed these days.”
“I know this hospital.” Chen Boqiao didn’t look at Pei Shu, frowning slightly, “Can you help me—” Chen Boqiao stopped before he finished speaking. After a few seconds, he said again, “Forget it.”
Pei Shu had never seen Chen Boqiao so indecisive, but Chen Boqiao seemed unwilling to mention it anymore, so Pei Shu didn’t ask any further. The two went downstairs and went to the reception room.
Zhang Jue was not in the reception room.
Chen Boqiao’s footsteps paused, and he walked directly to the open door to the swimming pool as Pei Shu followed.
As soon as they left the house, Pei Shu smelled a faint smell of cigarettes in the air. When he looked up, it turned out that Zhang Jue was standing by the pool smoking while looking tired. He stood next to the marble column with an ashtray on top, his sleeves were rolled up, and a conspicuous band-aid was placed on his left arm. He looked bored and sleepy.
Seeing Chen Boqiao and Pei Shu, Zhang Jue did not make any extra moves except standing up a bit straighter, and his expression got more kept.
“You’re done talking?” Zhang Jue asked, still holding the cigarette between his fingers, thin smoke floating upward.
Pei Shu saw seven or eight cigarette butts in the ashtray. Before Chen Boqiao could speak, he couldn’t help but say, “Zhang Jue, you didn’t do your research? Chen Boqiao hates it when other people smoke.”
Zhang Jue obviously didn’t know. He stilled for a while, and quickly put out the remaining half of the cigarette in the ashtray at hand. He then turned his head and nervously looked at Chen Boqiao, silently asking for confirmation.
Pei Shu swore that Chen Boqiao’s aversion to tobacco and alcohol was definitely not news in the Asian League. Although Chen Boqiao never clearly said it, anyone who knew Chen Boqiao knew that as long as anyone at the function was smoking or drunk, Chen Boqiao would definitely leave the scene in the shortest time possible.
But Chen Boqiao apparently had another set of rules for Zhang Jue. He said, “Well, I can’t say I hate it. But smoking in the army is against the rules and not proper,” Chen Boqiao said again.
Zhang sighed in relief and believed him, nodding in agreement. He washed his hands by the sink and walked back to Chen Boqiao. He was not much shorter than Chen Boqiao, but a lot thinner. The sinking afternoon sun gradually passed through the clouds and the trees, shining on the lower half of Zhang Jue’s face. Zhang Jue’s pale skin and lips seemed to have a serene golden glow to it.
Pei Shu looked at him for a few more seconds than he usually would, then looked away and found that Chen Boqiao was also watching.
“Let’s go, we’re done.” Chen Boqiao raised his hand and pulled Zhang Jue’s shoulder lightly.
After Zhang Jue turned around, Chen Boqiao turned his head and looked straight with a calm expression at Pei Shu from three or four meters away, amidst the hot and humid air mixed with the sound of insects.