Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editors: kai and Kiramekineko
Chen Boqiao was raven like Zhang Jue, but the length of his hair was much shorter and coarser than Zhang Jue’s. There were barely any scars on his face, save for one near the right ear—a line that looked like it may have been from shrapnel. If Chen Boqiao was dressed neatly, no one would have thought that he had so many scars.
They were lying in the bed, Zhang Jue curled up facing Chen Boqiao. Maybe because the room was too dark, Chen Boqiao shifted on his side and reached to turn on the bedside lamp. Zhang Jue raised his eyes and saw the burn marks on Chen Boqiao’s back.
When he helped Chen Boqiao remove the tracker, Zhang Jue had seen it, but he hadn’t had time to take a closer look at the time. He only touched it lightly but he was politely stopped by Chen Boqiao.
The bedside lamp was very dim, and the palm-sized burn mark looked somewhat scary. Zhang Jue reached out to touch it, feeling Chen Boqiao tighten reflexively beneath his hand, and then quickly relax.
Chen Boqiao said nothing, breathing quietly. His back was strong and well-toned. Under the dim light, it looked like a propaganda poster trying to get people to enlist. The slightly raised muscles symbolized the battlefield, and the scars were medals.
Zhang Jue’s fingertips stilled for a little while, and then they traveled down the edge of the scar. He pressed the small piece of uneven skin that was not so flawless. Chen Boqiao was silent and did not resist Zhang Jue’s touch. Zhang Jue touched it for a while, then got closer uncontrollably, pressing his cheeks against him, and then pressed his lips on it.
The scarred skin was as warm as the other parts of Chen Boqiao, but it was uneven, wrinkled like the soles of a newborn’s foot, and its color was different from the surrounding skin.
Zhang Jue did not feel scared or disgusted, but after looking at it for a long time, he felt a little sad. For some reason, he felt worse kissing Chen Boqiao’s scar than when Chen Boqiao refused his kiss.
He couldn’t help but say, “It must’ve hurt.”
After he asked that, he felt like he had just said something stupid and awkward.
Fortunately, Chen Boqiao didn’t mind. Chen Boqiao pondered and replied calmly, “I forgot.”
“It’s been a long time,” he said again, “it was probably fine.”
Zhang Jue let go of Chen Boqiao and moved his lips away. Chen Boqiao sat up and turned his head. Looking down at Zhang Jue who was lying down on the bed, he asked Zhang Jue, “Why? You feel sad for me?”
The two looked at each other for a few seconds before Zhang Jue gave in and made a noise of affirmation. Chen Boqiao took Zhang Jue’s hand on the quilt and said coaxingly, “Me forgetting it means it doesn’t hurt.”
Chen Boqiao’s palm was very hot and rougher than Zhang Jue’s. He held Zhang Jue’s hand and didn’t let go.
Zhang Jue also wanted to sit up, but was pressed down by Chen Boqiao.
“You’re exhausted,” Chen Boqiao said. “Lie down.”
Zhang Jue’s face burned. He only said that he was exhausted because he couldn’t take any more of Chen Boqiao’s passion during sex just now. He had said it very lightly. He thought that Chen Boqiao hadn’t heard it, because Chen Boqiao continued with his pace despite his exhaustion.
Chen Boqiao turned his back to him, motionless. Zhang Jue couldn’t tell if there was something on his mind or if he was just spacing out.
Zhang Jue stared for a while, then asked a question he had been curious about for a long time, “Why did you join the army?”
When he was in school, Chen Boqiao seemed to have nothing to do with the military. Everyone thought that Chen Boqiao would go to business school after graduating, inherit his father’s corporation, and become a successful businessman.
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and said quietly, “I don’t really know.”
He said he didn’t really know, so Zhang Jue knew that he didn’t want to talk about it. He did not ask again and simply agreed, “It’s been so many years.”
But after a short while, Chen Boqiao spoke again. He suddenly told Zhang Jue, “My grandfather was a soldier. But he passed away very early.”
Chen Boqiao sat up straight, raised his head, and looked at the white wall. Zhang Jue could only see a small part of his profile and couldn’t read his expression clearly.
After a long pause, he spoke again, “I had accompanied my mother to recuperate her health in Europe since I was a child.” Chen Boqiao whispered, “She was in poor health and never went out. Every day in the study, she would polish my grandfather’s medals and count his achievements. So I felt suffocated at home at the time and I actually preferred to be at school.”
“Zhang Jue,” Chen Boqiao said suddenly. He asked, “How old were you when you started going to school in Roche?”
Zhang Jue was stunned, and replied, “I was ten years old and was admitted in the fourth grade.”
Chen Boqiao’s hands suddenly moved a little.
“Ten years old.” Chen Boqiao repeated thoughtfully.
Zhang Jue did not know why Chen Boqiao had to repeat it, so he asked Chen Boqiao, “What’s wrong?”
Chen Boqiao shook his head and leaned back. Zhang Jue felt the mattress under him shift slightly and saw Chen Boqiao lying down again.
The dim light made Chen Boqiao’s facial features look more defined. He turned his face and looked at Zhang Jue. His lips were a little thin, the corners of his lips were slightly hooked, and his eyes were bright and focused.
Chen Boqiao was too close, his expression too mysterious, but he didn’t seem to be planning to do anything, which made Zhang Jue flustered and confused.
“Zhang Jue.” He called his name.
“Huh?” Zhang Jue knew that he looked silly, but he couldn’t control it.
“Have you ever heard the rumors that my parents had a bad relationship?” Chen Boqiao asked.
Zhang Jue did hear about it, so he nodded hesitantly. Anyone who knew anything about Chen Boqiao would know that Chen Zhaoyan sent his wife and Chen Boqiao to Europe not long after Chen Boqiao was born, and they had barely seen each other in years.
“It’s true,” Chen Boqiao said.
He lowered his eyes, playing with Zhang Jue’s slender fingers, and narrated his family’s history without any emotion, “Whenever they met, they’d shout at each other.”
Chen Boqiao suddenly smiled. He raised his hand to touch Zhang Jue’s face, and said, “You’d be disappointed at the reason why I enlisted.”
“It was because…” He stared at nothing in particular as if trying to remember. “I spent much more time with my mother than with my father.
I was nineteen when my mother passed away, and I had just graduated from Roche.
I saw the advertisement to enlist in the Asian League then. I didn’t really want to go, but when I mentioned it to my father, he hated the idea vehemently—so I went back to the Asian League and joined the military academy.”
He asked Zhang Jue, “Wasn’t I pretty stupid back then?”
“But after joining the army,” he said again, “I’ve never once regretted it”
Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao, blinked slowly, and commented, ”Rebellious.”
Chen Boqiao smiled again, and he chuckled, “Zhang Jue, you are infuriating.”
But Zhang Jue knew that Chen Boqiao was not angry.
Zhang Jue asked without thinking, “Have you ever told Pei Shu about this?”
Chen Boqiao glanced at Zhang Jue, grasped Zhang Jue’s hand and pulled Zhang Jue into his arms. He got closer to Zhang Jue’s ear and said a little harshly, “What does that have to do with you?”
Zhang Jue didn’t know what to reply.
But not long after, Chen Boqiao said softly, “Of course not.” Then he added,”Why would I tell him about this?”. His arms were slung across Zhang Jue’s chest, and Zhang Jue embraced him back.
After a moment of silence, Chen Boqiao asked Zhang Jue, “What are your plans tomorrow?”
“Go to the pier where the cruise ship will be docked and familiarize myself with the route,” Zhang Jue said. “Do you want to go together?”
“No,” Chen Boqiao said, “I’ll stay in the safe house.”
Zhang Jue vaguely knew that Chen Boqiao would contact Pei Shu tomorrow to discuss things that were not suitable to be discussed when he was around. Since Pei Shu and Chen Boqiao had gotten into contact, everything went smoothly, as if arriving in North America and the New Independent State had become a very simple matter. Zhang Jue’s plan was no longer important.
Zhang Jue did not know the exact time, and judging by the light leaking through between the curtains, it should still be at night. Unknowingly, they had spent another day in Bangkok. It seemed that they did a lot of things, but nothing of any importance.
Zhang Jue didn’t even check the news from the Asian League or get intel on the search party looking for Chen Boqiao. They just had a date.
Chen Boqiao moved to sling an arm across Zhang Jue’s waist above the quilt. He stared into Zhang Jue’s eyes, and Zhang Jue took the hint to kiss him.
After a few pecks on the lip, Zhang Jue still felt jittery, so he faltered and implored, “If there are any changes, just tell me.”
Chen Boqiao said okay, then got on top of him, his back making a tent in the quilt.
Zhang Jue put his hand on Chen Boqiao’s shoulders. They were around the same height, but their body type and skin tone were very different. Chen Boqiao’s legs were entangled with his, and the warmth of it could be felt on his skin.
“Zhang Jue.” Chen Boqiao called him by name.
Zhang Jue raised his eyes to look at Chen Boqiao. Chen Boqiao’s fingers traced the corners of his eyes, his cheeks, and then slid to his chin. He gently played with Zhang Jue’s black hair scattered on the pillow, and then whispered, “I never go back on my promises.” Then he said,”Please give me a bit more time.”
Zhang Jue was not sure what “time” Chen Boqiao was referring to.
However, time was the one thing that Zhang Jue had the most of, and Zhang Jue was very patient. No matter how long it’d take or how slim the hopes were, Zhang Jue could do things without any hesitation.