Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Chen Boqiao stood before Zhang Jue’s door, a hand resting on the doorbell. After a few seconds of silence, he heard Zhang Jue hurriedly tell him to wait.
Zhang Jue actually had a very good voice. When he was talking to other people it sounded cold, but when he was with Chen Boqiao, his voice was hesitant and cautious. He did not know how to disguise himself. If he stayed with Chen Boqiao for long enough, even an idiot would be able to tell that he liked Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao waited for a minute, but the door remained shut. He suddenly felt like playing a prank and pressed the doorbell again. He heard it from the other end of the call.
In the next second, the door was opened to a slit.
Zhang Jue was behind the door with his phone in his hand, wearing a dark colored silk bathrobe, his moist hair let down. The bathrobe was loosely tied around his waist. He widened his eyes and asked Chen Boqiao, “Have you been waiting for long?”
It was not obvious just now because of the suit, but Chen Boqiao could tell he had lost weight from before he left the cruise. From the front, he could see a short section of the medical tape and waterproof bandage.
“I just got here,” said Chen Boqiao, pushing lightly on the door.
Zhang Jue pulled the door open more, and Chen Boqiao walked in to find that Zhang Jue wasn’t wearing any shoes. He stood on the white marble tiles at the entrance barefoot.
It looked cold, but Zhang Jue didn’t seem to mind. He walked to the light grey carpet and looked back at Chen Boqiao. He slowly asked, “Has the banquet ended?”
“I have no idea.” Chen Boqiao smiled at him, “When I left, your father had just returned.”
Maybe because of the lighting, Chen Boqiao felt that Zhang Jue’s eyes looked somewhat swollen. Zhang Jue didn’t seem to notice it himself, and said, “Mhm.” Then he did not know what to say next, so he started to nervously avoid Chen Boqiao’s eyes, and asked if he wanted anything to drink.
Chen Boqiao told him that water was fine, and Zhang Jue went to get him a bottle. Chen Boqiao took the bottle from Zhang Jue, lowering his eyes to look at him. His free hand rested on Zhang Jue’s shoulder, “Turn around, let me see the surgery wound.”
Zhang Jue tamely turned around and let Chen Boqiao sweep his hair to the side.
Probably because he had just finished his shower, Zhang Jue hadn’t removed the waterproof bandage. The transparent film clung onto his fair and elegant neck, covering the beige medical tape and gauze.
Chen Boqiao raised his hand and touched the edge of the waterproof bandage with a finger. Zhang Jue’s skin was warm and supple, but the thin layer of bandage stopped his finger from running.
“Do you need to remove the waterproof bandage?” Chen Boqiao asked.
Zhang Jue’s shoulder shifted, and he murmured, “Yes.”
Chen Boqiao then slowly peeled it away from the back of his neck. “Do you need to reapply anything?”
“No need.” Zhang Jue asked softly, “Can I turn around now?”
Zhang Jue didn’t look like the type to be obedient and demure, so it was very cute when he did. Chen Boqiao laughed softly and told him yes, and Zhang Jue then turned back around.
The two of them were next to the glass furnace in the room. They stood close to each other. When Zhang Jue turned and his knee touched Chen Boqiao, he glanced up at Chen Boqiao. Chen Boqiao disposed of the waterproof bandage in the trash bin and looked back at him.
Zhang Jue’s clothing was in disarray, while Chen Boqiao was in his suit. The two held eye contact and no one spoke first.
A while later, when he got used to the tension, Zhang Jue finally mustered up his courage and took the initiative. He closed his eyes and slowly got closer to Chen Boqiao, pressing his soft lips on Chen Boqiao’s chin, moving up and holding Chen Boqiao’s lips in his.
Zhang Jue’s right hand was holding Chen Boqiao’s arm. He licked at Chen Boqiao’s lips pleadingly. After more than a month of separation, he stumbled back with his clumsy yet effective attempts to dye Chen Boqiao in the bitter almond of his scent, inviting him to do what he wanted.
Chen Boqiao lowered his head and responded to Zhang Jue’s kiss.
He thought no one but him would ever know about this side of Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue’s diplomat father; gentle mother; the classmate named Harrison, who started his adult show club in the Thai Independent State; Ai Jiaxi, who would not stop acting spoiled; and the receptionist at the pet hospital.
None of them knew that Zhang Jue had this side to him.
He gave himself over with the innocence of a lamb, a lustful sacrifice. He used his arms to hold, his lips to kiss, trying his best to entice Chen Boqiao helplessly.
The aroma of almond was mixed with the hotel fragrance, and the belt of the bathrobe fell to the carpet silently, a section of it falling onto Chen Boqiao’s leather shoes. Zhang Jue sat on the hotel room’s wooden desk, his legs slightly spread apart and swinging from the desk. The bathrobe brushed against the suit, making some suggestive sounds.
Suddenly, Chen Boqiao’s phone buzzed, and Zhang Jue’s hand on his chest faltered. Chen Boqiao wanted to ignore the phone, but it ceaselessly vibrated. Zhang Jue opened his eyes, eye lashes brushing against Chen Boqiao’s face. He moved away from Chen Boqiao and reminded him softly, “The phone.”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and finally took his phone out. It was a call from a subordinate, so Chen Boqiao picked up. The subordinate asked when his luggage was to be delivered, and Chen Boqiao succinctly told him to do it in the morning the next day.
Chen Boqiao hung up and put his phone aside. Zhang Jue neither asked him about the call, nor continued kissing him.
He just touched Chen Boqiao’s hand, closing the short distance between them and said, “I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon.”
Chen Boqiao observed Zhang Jue’s lowered eyes. “I need to go to the bay area by nine A.M.”
“Okay.” Zhang Jue wanted to let go of his hand, but Chen Boqiao grabbed him back.
Zhang Jue looked up at Chen Boqiao and hesitantly asked, “Are you mad that I came today?”
“No.” Chen Boqiao thought that his answer was fast and sure, but Zhang Jue did not seem to be happy with it.
In the evening, when Zhang Jue and Chen Boqiao met, he had wanted to ask why he didn’t tell him over the phone. Now that he thought about it, it was most likely because he was afraid.
Zhang Jue did not even have the courage to kiss Chen Boqiao twice within a short timespan.
The two of them remained silent until Zhang Jue quietly said, “I thought you said you wanted to see me.” Zhang Jue’s head was lowered, and his disheartened expression reminded Chen Boqiao of the cat plush toy he found in the bedroom cabinet before they left the safe house.
Zhang Jue had given both his heart and the toy to Chen Boqiao, but also decided that Chen Boqiao would not like or treasure them, so after giving them to him, he took them back to keep them safe himself.
Chen Boqiao tugged at Zhang Jue’s arm and Zhang Jue leaned over gently. Chen Boqiao held him tightly against his chest. His face nuzzled into Chen Boqiao’s shoulder, Chen Boqiao could feel that Zhang Jue had lost weight, and the scent of his pheromones had changed to become more sweet than bitter.
“I do,” Chen Boqiao told him honestly in the end. He could not tell if Zhang Jue believed him.
Zhang Jue stayed in Chen Boqiao’s arms for a long while, and finally said in a muffled and low voice, “My father found out.”
“He…doesn’t like it,” Zhang Jue added. He was talking about his father’s disapproval, but was leaning against Chen Boqiao all the same.
Chen Boqiao’s hand pressed on Zhang Jue’s back. Perhaps because he did not control his strength very well, Zhang Jue hissed lightly. Chen Boqiao loosened his grip and asked Zhang Jue, “He doesn’t like me?”
Zhang Jue scoffed, as if Chen Boqiao had just said something absurd. Chen Boqiao had never heard Zhang Jue do that before.
Resting his chin on Chen Boqiao’s shoulder, Zhang Jue did not argue. His tone bare of any emotions, he replied, “I think…he felt that we are not a good match. I already knew that though.”
He sounded upset and pushed himself away from Chen Boqiao to get a better look at him.
Even though the two of them had just kissed and were still holding hands, Zhang Jue asked calmly, “You told me before that you want to be with someone you like. How much longer would it take for you to find someone like that? Are you going to start looking for them after you leave the military?”
His eyes were shiny with tears, but unlike the during the first time they had sex, when the tears fell one by one, now they stayed in his eyes, disappearing when he blinked, but coming back just as fast when he looked at Chen Boqiao.
Chen Boqiao had never given anyone promises about the future. He had thought that family life was far away from him, and that he could take his time to court Zhang Jue.
Perhaps after the semi-severed diplomatic relations between the Asian League and the New Independent Republic was repaired, he could visit Zhang Jue’s family as he had planned. Everything was taken into account, including Zhang Jue’s cooperation in this plan. After all, action was more important than empty words. Empty promises about forever were not for the likes of Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue.
But he supposed that no plan was perfect.
“Zhang Jue,” Chen Boqiao called quietly as he held Zhang Jue’s chin.
Zhang Jue had a small face, one that Chen Boqiao could hold in one hand, and there was the scar from the surgery on the back of his neck. Zhang Jue had always had double standards for Chen Boqiao. He was willing to kiss the burn marks on Chen Boqiao’s back, but did not want him to look at his scar.
He was also stubborn and not too smart, remembering Chen Boqiao’s careless words from the love hotel until now, and despite all the times they’d had sex and fell asleep to each other’s voices on the phone, he still did not understand and wanted to ask.
But Chen Boqiao did not want to see Zhang Jue upset and confused about the matter any longer. He looked into Zhang Jue’s eyes intently and told him with boundless patience, “I don’t need to look any more.”