Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Chen Boqiao walked behind Zhang Jue with his suitcase.
The sea breeze was strong, and Zhang Jue was so thin that he looked like he was about to be blown away by the wind. The soft, dark blue cotton T-shirt was blown against him, drawing the outline of a narrow waist.
After pushing open the glass door of the boarding hall, Zhang Jue glanced back and held the door for Chen Boqiao until Chen Boqiao walked to him.
Chen Boqiao approached Zhang Jue and smelled the light pheromone smell on Zhang Jue. The aroma of bitter apricot matched Zhang Jue himself very well. He was distant and tired. It seemed that no matter how old he got, Zhang Jue was always drifting away from the world and refusing to integrate into society.
Chen Boqiao used to be very insensitive to other people’s pheromone smells. This time, maybe because Zhang Jue has spent a lot of time in his proximity, or because Zhang Jue smelled good, he managed to remember the smell of bitter apricot.
“The leader is over there.” Zhang Jue turned his face slightly, and pointed at the corner of the hall to Chen Boqiao. His footsteps halted, his speech sped up a bit, and he said, “Show me your passport again. I’m worried today’s disguise looks different.” Zhang Jue was always a little cold when talking to others, but not with Chen Boqiao. He was so cautious and almost harsh to himself, always showing a lack of confidence and self esteem.
Chen Boqiao felt Zhang Jue’s anxiety, looked at Zhang Jue, and tried to smile reassuringly, “Don’t worry, It’s very similar.” Then he put his arm around Zhang Jue’s shoulders and walked forward.
The boarding hall was not very big, and there were not many people at noon. They quickly walked to the guide and showed their ID to the guide. After getting some information, they took the room card, checked the luggage in, and went to the border inspection.
There were five border security checkpoints for boarding the ship. Other than the priority queue, there were several travelers queuing up at every other station. The price of an interior cabin was the cheapest, so there was no privilege for them. Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue split up to get the inspections.
As he waited for his turn, Chen Boqiao looked around casually and quickly found the person he was looking for. The two exchanged eye contact and the other person walked towards him. When they brushed past each other, they exchanged room keys.
Chen Boqiao’s turn arrived first. The border inspector checked his identity information and returned his passport to him. He did not wait for Zhang Jue and instead went to the boarding gate of the ship.
The attitude of the cruise staff was much better than that of the border inspection agents. They politely took pictures of Chen Boqiao, handed over the room card, and said to him, “Mr. Zhu, welcome aboard.” Chen Boqiao smiled and nodded, walked into the gate, and waited for Zhang Jue by the boarding ladder.
Two or three minutes later, Zhang Jue hurried over. He probably ran for a short distance, judging by his pink cheeks and his panting, “The person in front of me took a while.” He asked Chen Boqiao, “Have you been waiting for a long time?”
“No.” Chen Boqiao shook his head, “Let’s go.”
Their room was on the tenth floor. They came out of the elevator with other passengers, walked along the light-colored carpet, passed through one door after another, and finally stopped in front of their room.
The staff had put the suitcase by the door of their room, so Zhang Jue took out the room card, swiped it, and opened the door. Chen Boqiao picked up the luggage and entered the room with Zhang Jue.
The inner cabin room is very small, covered with red and black carpets. Two beds took up most of the room. The ends of the beds were only about one meter away from the wall, which was barely enough space to lay out the suitcase.
Chen Boqiao put down the suitcase, walked to the wardrobe, and opened it. Probably because the voyage was going to be long, the wardrobe was spacious and there was even a retractable iron rack for keeping suitcases. He pulled the rack out, jiggled it around, and decided that it was okay to use, so he turned around and suggested, “Let’s open the suitcase and sort it out first.”
However, Zhang Jue did not move. Leaning back against the door, he looked at Chen Boqiao from a few meters away. His expression was a little different from just now, looking befuddled, his thin pale hands hung beside his thighs, and his lips were slightly open.
Chen Boqiao looked at him, and when he saw that he didn’t seem to be coming over, he asked, “What’s the matter?”
Zhang Jue paused for a while, and whispered, “Who is the person who exchanged room cards with you?”
Chen Boqiao did not expect to be discovered by Zhang Jue. He was also stunned momentarily, frowning subconsciously, and then slowly asked Zhang Jue, “You saw?”
“Yes.” Zhang Jue nodded lightly and said, “He was also in the elevator just now, also on the tenth floor, right?”
Chen Boqiao looked into Zhang Jue’s eyes and admitted, “Yes.”
Zhang Jue was watched by Chen Boqiao for a few seconds, and he reluctantly looked away, then said, “Okay.” He lowered his head, looked at his toes, and said, “I see.”
“What do you see?” Chen Boqiao felt a little amused, but there was some inexplicable discomfort in his stomach. It was like a thin string, pulling in his gut, it was not pulled taut, but it felt strange when Zhang Jue stood at the door so hesitantly, with a depressed look, refusing to approach him.
Zhang Jue’s fingers moved, then he obediently walked a few steps to his side, half an arm’s reach away, still not looking at him.
Chen Boqiao handed the room card to Zhang Jue. Zhang Jue slowly took it. The number indicated on the room card was 14 rooms away from their room right now.
“He’s one of Pei Shu’s lackeys,” Chen Boqiao said. “Using the passport of my previous alias, just with a different photo.”
Zhang Jue took the card, thought about it for a while, raised his face, and asked Chen Boqiao, “You are not going to North America with me?”
He asked a very simple question, but Chen Boqiao’s “yes” had never felt more difficult.
Zhang Jue pursed his lips and said, “Okay.”
There was no unhappiness or unwillingness on his face, there wasn’t even any doubt or confusion. His expression was of genuine acceptance. Zhang Jue’s skin was pale, his lower eyelashes were very long, and his face had an almost childlike quality to it. Although his lip color was very light, his lips had a beautiful shape. Chen Boqiao had some inappropriate thoughts that he quickly and calmly suppressed.
“Before I boarded the ship, I was worried that there might be unforeseen circumstances, so I didn’t tell you,” Chen Boqiao said to Zhang Jue. “I exchanged identities with him so when the president’s forces come to arrest me in another room, you will not be affected. My guys here will see you off safely to North America.”
The bodyguard who used Shen Yufei’s passport to board the ship was the fourth person Pei Shu arranged to board the ship. Chen Boqiao boarded the ship under the name “Zhu He” and also left a photo record at the photo booth. There was no camera in the corridor of the inner cabin. Chen Boqiao should live in room 1037, which has nothing to do with Zhang Jue and Shen Yufei in room 1022.
Objectively speaking, this was the best for both Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue. Zhang Jue used a fake passport, and it would most probably be discovered under scrutiny.
Zhang Jue quickly understood Chen Boqiao’s plan. He did not raise any objections. After thinking for a while, he asked Chen Boqiao, “When are you leaving?”
“Are you going to live in that room now?” he asked again.
“No,” Chen Boqiao said, “I’ll go in another six days.”
“Then…” Zhang Jue’s voice lowered, and his face showed a little hesitation. “After you are gone, will he live with me?” Before Chen Boqiao could react, he added, “I don’t like rooming with people I’m unfamiliar with.”
“When Jia Xi comes over to my house, he also stays in the guest room.” Zhang Jue emphasized again. As if he was more concerned about living with others than Chen Boqiao leaving.
Zhang Jue’s strange focus made Chen Boqiao feel lighthearted for a few seconds. Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and said, “You don’t need to live with him, I will help you upgrade to a better cabin.”
“Well.” Zhang Jue blinked a few times slowly, and said, “It’s okay, I can do it myself.”
Having said so much, Zhang Jue didn’t seem to want to get any closer to Chen Boqiao, as if half an arm’s reach was already close to the maximum limit: within reach, but yet far away.
He and Chen Boqiao were like a landlord and tenant whose leases have expired. They stood together and cleared the rooms peacefully, splitting their things. In this kind of situation, Chen Boqiao was not used to taking the initiative. He was used to waiting. If he waits a little longer, Zhang Jue will always take the first step.
Today was no different. After just standing for a while, Zhang Jue couldn’t help but ask Chen Boqiao, “Are you going to be safe after you get arrested?”
This was a question that Chen Boqiao could not answer. Chen Boqiao thought for a moment, and admitted honestly, “I don’t know.”
Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao with his lips tightly pursed. Chen Boqiao saw that the corners of his eyes were a little red, but his eyes were not teary. This reminded Chen Boqiao of when Zhang Jue buried half of his face in the pillow and cried when they had sex for the first time. And also when Zhang Jue held his hand to kiss the back of his hand in the car.
Perhaps Zhang Jue looks stubborn, stupid, not attractive enough, too mediocre, or quiet in the eyes of Pei Shu, or everyone else making judgments about him. But if Chen Boqiao were to choose one person from all of his admirers, Chen Boqiao would only choose Zhang Jue, every time.
If he only had one umbrella, one bouquet, one key to his heart, Chen Boqiao would give it all to Zhang Jue. Saying ‘love’ may be difficult, but making a choice was almost too easy. Chen Boqiao called Zhang Jue’s name.
Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao earnestly, as if he was afraid of missing a word that Chen Boqiao uttered, his expression a little nervous.
“If I get there safely,” Chen Boqiao said, “wait for me to find you.”