Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
While waiting on the cruise ship and staying with Zhang Jue for those three days, Chen Boqiao felt uncharacteristically uneasy. It was neither panic stemming from the unknown danger that he would face after returning to the Asian League, nor was it worries about the approaching arrest.
He knew very well that the decision he and Pei Shu had made was a good one. Zhang Jue would return to North America with the cruise ship and wait for him in the NIR, and he himself was ready to accept all possible consequences from his bold move of getting intentionally arrested. Yet he still felt that he could not let go. It was not a strong feeling, but it simply would not subside.
While his father was still alive, he was not as keen on helping Chen Boqiao form a family like his stepmother was. He only had two requirements for Chen Boqiao’s future partner: they need to be from somewhere in the Asian Leagues, and they should be an Omega who was willing to bear a child.
At that time, Chen Boqiao felt that his father’s request was next to nothing and promised him easily. Now he realised that nothing is ever for sure, his seemingly invincible father was no longer with him, and Zhang Jue was neither strictly an Omega, nor from the Asian Leagues.
Chen Boqiao thought that if he had fallen in love with Zhang Jue when he was a teenager, Chen Zhaoyan might be as furious as he had been when learned that he joined the army despite his misgivings, but if he saw Zhang Jue, his father might change his mind again. Because Zhang Jue was the kind of person who could make parents very happy. He was mild-tempered, well-educated, patient and gentle, obedient and sensible, and had a clean resume as well.
Zhang Jue often showed a simple naivety when facing Chen Boqiao. He had difficulties reaching out to Chen Boqiao to ask for anything. He was always often flustered or upset quietly, but he was never afraid of waiting or enduring pain.
In the few days after Zhang Jue brought Chen Boqiao from the escort vehicle to the TIS, Chen Boqiao felt that Zhang Jue’s attitude towards him was very interesting. Zhang Jue was akin to a person obsessed with scooping up reflections in the water—he knew that Chen Boqiao was standing on the shore right next to him, and yet he still lowers his head to slowly and futilely get the reflection in the water, emptying one well after another, doing meaningless things, wasting time and refusing to show any fatigue.
The afternoon when they were getting closer to the Asian League waters, Zhang Jue took an hour-long nap. He was wearing Chen Boqiao’s clothes, lying on his side. A quilt covered him from the waist down, and his body was marked with the evidence of the night before. He was like a soaked sponge, emitting the scent of Chen Boqiao’s pheromones from deep within his bones.
At three, the sound of Chen Boqiao flipping through the documents Pei Shu had Cui Chengze bring to him woke him up. Zhang Jue looked at the digital clock on the bedside table, sat up, and stared at Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao asked, “Did I wake you up?”
Zhang Jue shook his head.
“When are you leaving?” He gathered the bedding around him and asked quietly, “Can I send you off?”
His long, soft upper and under lashes closed together and separated slowly, every blink like a silent vow, and in the harsh bright light in this cabin room kept at twenty degrees at all times, it was simple. It was enchanting.
These few days on the cruise, Chen Boqiao could not relax and pretend that he was on a vacation like Pei Shu suggested. Other than having sex with him, he didn’t do any of the things that other couples on the cruise were doing with Zhang Jue. He suddenly felt a sort of guilt that he hadn’t done enough, and he hoped that he would still get a chance to make up for it in the future.
All the things that other ordinary couples would experience, even just a trick to appease their partner, or exchanging gifts with each other. All the things that he did not have time to do this time, he wanted to give Zhang Jue in the future.
Chen Boqiao put down his dossier and said, “Alright.” He paused and added, “At five, I need to speak to Pei Shu about something.”
Zhang Jue nodded, uncovered himself from the quilt, and sat up on his knees while pressing his hands on the wall, as if remembering something. Chen Boqiao’s shirt was crumpled in his sleep, covering him until the middle of his thigh.
As usual, he did not have any expression on his face, moving forward on his knees in an attempt to get out of the bed. But before long, his expression changed.
“What’s wrong?” Chen Boqiao got up and walked a few steps to help him.
Zhang Jue did not speak, a cold hand grabbing Chen Boqiao’s arm. With his support, he got out of bed and made a beeline for the bathroom as soon as his feet touched the floor, too hurried to even put shoes on.
Chen Boqiao stared at Zhang Jue’s back, not understanding why he was in such a hurry at first. Then, as Zhang Jue was almost at the bathroom door, Chen Boqiao saw the translucent white fluid traveling down the insides of Zhang Jue’s thighs, making its way to the middle of his thighs.
Chen Boqiao waited for a little while to pass him a change of clothes. Zhang Jue opened the bathroom door a crack, thanked him for the clothes, and spent another period of time inside before coming out.
He probably took a shower, as Chen Boqiao could smell the shower gel on him. He made his way slowly to Chen Boqiao’s side and said, “I’ll do your disguise.”
Chen Boqiao did not let Zhang Jue stand. He got Zhang Jue to sit at the edge of one bed, gave the materials for his disguise to Zhang Jue, and sat on the other bed opposite Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue’s hand moved slowly on Chen Boqiao’s face. When he pasted on the facial hair, his fingertips grazed Chen Boqiao’s lower lip.
He moved as if Chen Boqiao could leave later if he did his makeup slower. But in the end, he still finished everything before four-thirty. He stared at Chen Boqiao for a long time, and leaned in to press his lips to Chen Boqiao’s.
Zhang Jue looked cold all the time. He did not look the type to know how to, nor need to cry. And yet, he has cried for Chen Boqiao before.
Cui Chengze waited nervously for more than thirty minutes, and at four-fifty, Chen Boqiao arrived early with someone else in tow. Cui Chengze had seen him before from a distance. The man was pale and thin, and he couldn’t tell if they were an Alpha or Beta from their appearance.
“I’m not done speaking with him yet,” Chen Boqiao explained, closing the door. He walked in and turned to look at Zhang Jue, giving a brief introduction. “This is Cui Chengze.”
Zhang Jue nodded to Cui Chengze and greeted him.
Cui Chengze nodded back, “Hello.”
“While you were asleep,” Chen Boqiao did not pay any more attention to Cui Chengze, and instead looked at Zhang Jue and spoke softly, “I asked the concierge to get you an upgrade for the room. Later Chengze will follow you downstairs and you can get the room after updating the room key card.”
Zhang Jue stayed at the door, not moving any closer. He said “okay” quietly.
Chen Boqiao paused and added, “I looked around and chose a double bedded suite, and there’s a living room between the two bedrooms, so you won’t be bothered.”
Zhang Jue did not look too pleased, but did not say anything.
Cui Chengze stood at the side, silently watching their exchange, and felt that their relationship was peculiar. Cui Chengze had never heard Chen Boqiao speak to anyone else like he did with Zhang Jue, but the difference was so subtle that he couldn’t quite tell what had changed.
“Chengze will accompany you when you get off the cruise at North America, and he’ll leave only after he’s seen you arrive safely in the NIR.”
Zhang Jue walked towards Chen Boqiao and rejected his offer with his head lowered. “It’s okay, Jiaxi will come pick me up.”
Chen Boqiao looked like he was about to say something else, but Cui Chengze’s phone started ringing. Cui Chengze looked at it and looked back at the two of them hesitantly.
“Go ahead,” Chen Boqiao told him.
Cui Chengze pressed the button to pick up and projected Pei Shu’s call onto a nearby wall. The camera on their side was fixed to a TV set, and probably because he saw Zhang Jue in the frame, Pei Shu stopped himself after saying “Boqiao”. He looked at the camera, unsure whether to continue.
Zhang Jue took it as Pei Shu’s cue for him to leave, and looked up at Chen Boqiao and told him, “I’ll take my leave then.” Cui Chengze looked at Zhang Jue’s side profile and realised that Zhang Jue’s eyes were of a dark, almost black colour, forming a stark contrast with his pale skin in a way that was strangely pure.
Then, Zhang Jue turned to Cui Chengze. “Are you coming?”
Cui Chengze’s task for the next few days was to protect Zhang Jue, so he nodded, then informed Chen Boqiao. “Colonel, I’ll be going downstairs with Mr Zhang.”
The two made brief eye contact, and Chen Boqiao acknowledged it with a nod. Then, he repeated to himself, “You can just go.”
Cui Chengze saluted Chen Boqiao and turned towards the door, and from the corner of his eye he saw Zhang Jue do the same.
“Wait,” Chen Boqiao suddenly called out.
Cui Chengze reflexively turned and immediately realised that he was not the one being spoken to.
Chen Boqiao forcefully pulled Zhang Jue into his arms and kissed him. The kiss was not intense, but Cui Chengze looked away. Pei Shu was also silent on the other end of the call.
Before long, Chen Boqiao let go of Zhang Jue and said something next to his ear that Cui Chengze could not make out, and then resumed his usual mannerism of gentleness, stepping back and watching as the two of them made their way out.
Cui Chengze and Zhang Jue did not speak the entire ride in the elevator. After they updated the room card, they went straight to the ocean-view suite with the attached balcony on floor eleven.
The room was more than a hundred square meters, with a large floor to ceiling window and a balcony. The setting sun shined on the varnished wooden floor through the gauze curtains that swayed in the sea breeze.
Cui Chengze got room service to deliver two portions of dinner to the room, but Zhang Jue barely ate anything. He sat on the sofa until past midnight with his legs curled under him.
At midnight, the suite’s living room only had a small and dim lamp turned on and the balcony door was open.
They could make out the sound of helicopter blades that other passengers missed, and see the light and hear the muffled sound of a silencer gun from far away.
After everything calmed down, Cui Chengze hesitated for a few minutes and turned on the light. Perhaps because the light was too bright, Zhang Jue moved and covered his face with his hand.
They were hands that were pale, slender, and the bluish blood vessels spread upward along the back of his hands, like a cold-toned, repressed sketch.
The cruise turned its course again, like a newly-forged sharp axe, splitting the deep blue sea with rolling foam and waves, facing the dawning sky, and marching towards North America.