Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Zhang Jue’s checkup was scheduled for the morning of the fourth day of his return. Because of Zhang Jue’s health complications, his father had contacted a private hospital that was highly secretive to do the check up.
The driver sent Zhang Jue to the hospital, and there was a doctor waiting for him in front of the medical centre. Dr. He was a gentle and kind middle-aged Beta, and was part of the team that would be operating on Zhang Jue, as well as a shareholder of the hospital itself.
In order to protect Zhang Jue’s privacy and to alleviate any doubt about the surgery, he was to accompany Zhang Jue the whole way.
After the regular check up, Zhang Jue and Dr. He arrived at the ultrasound room. The owner of the hospital had informed the doctor on duty in the ultrasound room beforehand, and they left to make room for Dr. He. Dr. He then got Zhang Jue to lie down on the bed and to pull his shirt up and reveal his abdomen.
Zhang Jue did as instructed and watched Dr. He put some cold, clear gel on his lower abdomen. He used the ultrasound probe to even out the gel over his skin, and pushed down slightly while moving around to get a more comprehensive view of Zhang Jue’s birth cavity.
“Due to the effects of the pheromones, the cavity is not well developed.” Dr. He watched the monitor and told Zhang Jue, “It’s smaller than the average Omega’s.”
Zhang Jue did not feel surprised or disappointed, as it had already been said to him many times by many professionals before. He asked Dr. He, “Will it develop better after I remove the alpha glands?”
The hand holding the ultrasound probe stopped in its track. He turned to Zhang Jue and asked, “You’re planning to remove the alpha glands?”
Zhang Jue did not understand what he meant by the question. He had always thought that since he was born with the omega glands, he would remove the implanted alpha glands eventually.
“Is that not suitable for me?” He asked.
“You could do it, but…” Dr. He looked at the monitor and added, “In fact, removing the alpha glands will be easier.”
“It’s just that your father thinks that you’ll be removing the omega glands.” He continued, “His concern is quite valid, as you’ve lived as an Alpha for so many years, suddenly turning into an Omega might bring a drastic change in the way your friends and relations treat you. We’ve also given our evaluation, and the last two patients with your situation had both chosen to keep the identity that they’re used to.”
Zhang Jue did not consider all of these side-effects, as he never had many friends or acquaintances anyways. He felt that him becoming an Omega had more of an effect on his father than on him.
“But don’t feel stressed to come to a decision like that,” said Dr. He, smiling. “You guys can take your time and discuss it.”
Zhang Jue nodded, and Dr. He continued with the check up. At a certain spot, he paused again.
Dr. He’s hand on the metal probe used a little more force, as he got closer to the monitor, as if he had seen something strange. The probe had left an imprint in Zhang Jue’s skin. Dr. He frowned as he stared at the screen and suddenly let go of Zhang Jue.
“Did you recently have sex?” he asked Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue looked at him for a few seconds, then nodded.
“In the future……” Dr. He gave Zhang Jue a complicated look, contemplated his words and said, “When engaging in sexual activities, try not to… get so intense with the cavity.”
Zhang Jue looked surprised, and Dr. He continued, “The entrance is a bit swollen. I’ll prescribe some oral medication and you can come back in three days. We’ll do the surgery when the swelling goes down.”
He kept the probe back after cleaning it and printed out the ultrasound sheet, stood up to get a paper towel for Zhang Jue’s abdomen and gently told him, “You can wipe the gel away with this.”
Zhang Jue did not say anything and just lowered his head to clean off the gel slowly. After he was ready, he got off the bed and when the two of them were at the door, Zhang Jue called out to him. “Dr. He,” Zhang Jue said, looking at him, “my father…”
Dr. He quickly understood what he wanted to say, and kindly replied, “Of course, Mr. Zhang will not need to be informed about this kind of trivial matter.”
After the check-up was over, Zhang Jue sat down with Dr. He in the resting area. Dr. He gave him some instructions about the surgery. After Zhang Jue noted them down, he contacted the driver who was waiting outside and went home.
Three days later, the health report was sent to Zhang Jue and his father, with the part about the ultrasound thoughtfully omitted, giving only a brief summary of the ultrasound results.
The report had said that Zhang Jue was mostly ready for the surgery and that he was more healthy than the previous two patients, so the probability of a successful complete removal of the glands was quite high, and there was a recommended surgery schedule.
The second day after they received the report, Zhang Jue accompanied Ai Jiaxi to the private island to reserve the hotel he was going to use for his birthday party. Originally, Zhang Jue had wanted to just get his lunch in the restaurant attached to the hotel, but at four p.m. he received a message from his mother that he was to immediately return home.
The island was a distance away from his house, so Zhang Jue only managed to get home at six o’clock. When he entered the door, his parents were not in the living room. The house staff pointed to the dining room, and Zhang Jue headed there straight away.
New Independent Republic’s winter always involved early sunsets and there was barely any light from the floor length window in the room. The dining room’s lights were all turned on.
All the food had been placed on the table already, and Zhang Jue’s parents had been sitting at the table waiting for him for a while.
Zhang Jue greeted his parents, and when his father nodded back at him, he pulled out a chair for himself.
“Let’s have dinner first,” His father suggested neutrally.
The family then began to have their meal.
Zhang Jue wordlessly cut up his piece of fish. He had remembered that his father was an attache for the New Independent Republic’s president for the visit to North America, and that their trip was supposed to take four days and three nights, but now he had returned a day in advance.
Having a family dinner with his father present was usually a rare occasion, and Zhang Jue’s mother was usually pleased during these occasions, but this time, Zhang Jue felt that neither of them looked very happy.
Halfway through the meal, his father quietly put down his cutlery. Zhang Jue saw it in his periphery and looked up to find that his father was looking at him. His mother looked nervous.
“I heard from Dr. He that you want to remove the alpha glands?” Zhang Jue’s father asked him.
Zhang Jue nodded and said, “That’s right.”
He had wanted to discuss the matter with his father, but he was too busy and Zhang Jue never found a chance.
“Why?” His father asked again. He looked unaffected, but he had more emphasis on his words and it felt like he was not agreeable with the decision.
Right then, Zhang Jue’s mother quietly interrupted, “Can everyone finish their food first?”
“I’m done with my food,” his father turned to reply. “I’m full already.” Then he turned back to look at Zhang Jue, waiting for his explanation.
Zhang Jue did not avoid his father’s gaze, and he stared into his eyes saying, “I was born with the omega glands.”
“But you had chosen to be an Alpha when you were seventeen.” The older man looked into Zhang Jue’s eyes as if they were in a negotiation. “Do you have any idea what it means for you, changing your second gender? You’ve been an Alpha for twelve years, have been engaged to an Omega, and your genital cavity isn’t even fully developed. Have you ever thought about all the things that will change about your life once you remove your alpha glands? What normal, suitable Alpha will accept you as a partner?”
Perhaps out of his confusion about Zhang Jue’s decision, or perhaps because he was worried about Zhang Jue’s future and wanted to convince him to stay as an Alpha, Zhang Fu became pointed and forceful. “Have you considered what other people are going to think about you? About the reason your engagement was called off?”
Zhang Jue’s mother looked at him with confusion in her eyes as well, her lips pursed into a thin line. She said softly, “My dear, you have to be sure about this.”
“I—” Zhang Jue made eye contact with his mother and paused before weakly replying, “I’m not afraid of that.”
It was almost like he didn’t believe in those words himself. A suffocating silence settled over the dining room.
The food was cold by now, and the gale outside swept the leaves up, making them hit the window lightly.
Finally, Zhang Fu broke the silence.
“Ever since you were young, me and your mother have given you a lot of freedom. Whether it was calling off the engagement with Ai Jiaxi or moving out, we’ve never interfered with any of your decisions.” He contemplated his words and sighed, adding, “But for this surgery, you have to give us a valid reason.”
Zhang Fu was nearly sixty years old this year, but he looked much younger, and he always had the air of authority and good upbringing around him, but now he removed his glasses and was leaning back into his chair, looking older than ever.
Zhang Jue’s words were stuck in his mouth. His parents asked for a reason that he could not give.
In the end, Chen Boqiao never promised him anything. Chen Boqiao was more like a far away and fragile dream.
No one would change themselves for a dream. A smoker will not quit because he had a dream about getting lung diseases, and a criminal would not hand himself in to the authorities because he had a dream that he got arrested. ”Removing the alpha glands because he wanted to be together with Chen Boqiao” was a reason that Zhang Jue could not even convince himself of, much less use on his parents.
He had spent a period of time together with Chen Boqiao. There were happy memories and disappointment, lustful moments and gentle ones as well, but when Zhang Jue thought back on it that day on the dinner table, the image that made the deepest impression was in the Asian League, the first time he and Chen Boqiao were reunited after more than ten years.
Chen Boqiao had gotten out of the prison vehicle, seen Zhang Jue’s face, and looked startled. Then, he remembered Zhang Jue’s name, gave him a polite smile, and nodded at him.
Zhang Jue had thought that this was the only kind of relationship he and Chen Boqiao were ever going to have. Even if Chen Boqiao had been sincere and genuine during those days they spent together, there was no future in it.
“Zhang Jue.” His father seemed to have gotten tired of waiting and told him bitterly, “We just want a reason.”
Zhang Jue looked at his father, unable to reply. He almost thought that he should just do what his father wanted and stop going against them. There was no real difference which glands he removed.
It all would lead to the same disappointing end, and nothing he was doing mattered at all. Chen Boqiao won’t date him out of pity, and he could find someone better anytime, but he was the only child of his parents and they wanted the best for him. But before he could change his mind, Zhang Fu gave in.
His father had slumped his shoulders tiredly and said, “Forget it, just do what you like. If you’re not afraid of the consequences, we won’t be worried about them either.”
Chen Boqiao’s retrial was proceeding smoothly. On a bright, sunny day one afternoon in mid-January, he was acquitted and released in court.
Pei Shu and his consultants were waiting in the lounge for Chen Boqiao. There was a set of formal wear on the sofa, and Chen Boqiao was to rest for half an hour before getting interviewed by the Asian League newspapers.
Chen Boqiao and his defense attorney were brought in by the staff. He gave Pei Shu a quick smile and shook hands with everyone in the room. He then went to change into the suit, walking out as he adjusted his tie, looking like the carefree and relaxed Chen Boqiao that everyone knew.
Pei Shu passed the reporter’s question outline to him, and after he gave it a glance, he suddenly asked, “Oh yeah, I told you to help me call him. What did he say?”
Pei Shu took a second to understand that Chen Boqiao was talking about Zhang Jue. “He’s safely arrived, what else could happen?”
Then, he remembered what Zhang Jue wanted him to tell Chen Boqiao.
He did not intentionally keep Chen Boqiao uninformed, but he had thought that Zhang Jue’s main point was that Chen Boqiao did not need to go anymore, and he had asked and gotten the answer that it was a small surgery. The lawyer never had enough time to brief Chen Boqiao during the visits, so such trivial matters were fine to leave until Chen Boqiao got out of prison.
However, once he passed Zhang Jue’s message to Chen Boqiao, his expression changed drastically.
Though he quickly went back into his normal look, he stared at Pei Shu expressionlessly for a few seconds, then asked, “When was that?”
“It was about two weeks ago,” Pei Shu said, feeling antsy all of a sudden.
“Give me the phone.” Chen Boqiao put down the document and Pei Shu hurriedly passed him the phone, watching as Chen Boqiao dialled.
The calls were never answered, so Chen Boqiao kept calling.
The stylist Pei Shu found for Chen Boqiao did not dare to get near him, and the media personnel had come to knock twice already. Chen Boqiao finally put down the phone, wrote down a name for Pei Shu, and told him to immediately contact them, then made a beeline for the door and headed to the interview location behind the media staff.