Chapter 46 (TOIC)

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They released firecrackers for an hour until the street finally quickly quieted down.

 

Chen Qianqing turned on his lamp, and the dim light filled his bedroom.
He lay on his bed, looking out the window – his curtains weren’t drawn.

 

The pitch-black streets were barely visible in the feeble light radiating from the street lamps.

 

Almost everything was silent.
The other people in the house were already asleep.

 

Chen Qianqing wasn’t sleepy, however.
The warm blanket covering him didn’t feel comfortable at all.

 

At first, he thought that there were several memories that he had forgotten for good; but now, it turned out that they weren't lost forever.

 

Seeing Lu Zhengfei braving the snow, he recalled what he went through before his rebirth.
At that point in the timeline, he had been locked at home for three whole years.
Although it couldn’t be considered a prison, his parents would never take their eyes off him.
He fought, but in the end, he was ruthlessly beaten up by his father; that's how he learnt how to be patient and how to compromise.

 

The proud son of heaven had always had an air of arrogance.
Even though he kept his face expressionless, something would still be inevitably betrayed while dealing with the trifling matters of everyday life.

Lu Zhengfei had thought that three years would be enough to wear away his love for Chen Qianqing; youngsters like novel things, and perhaps those strong emotions were born because of something being out of reach.
Almost everyone labeled his love for Chen Qianqing as such.

 

It was a shame that this wasn't the reality of his life.

 

When the thirty year old Lu Zhengfei had seen Chen Qianqing again, he had instantly understood he would never, in his entire life, get him.

 

After having been apart for three years, their first meeting had been on a snowy night, similarly cold to the one they were experiencing now.
Those that used to be blurry memories turned more vivid as a consequence.

 

Lying on the bed, he went back to that cold evening.

He saw Chen Qianqing wearing a gray overcoat, holding an umbrella.
That Chen Qianqing walked slowly, his cheeks slightly flushed, his pretty lips curved in a smile.

Everything was like a beautiful painting.

But then he noticed Lu Zhengfei standing in the snow, as well.
That warm smile instantly vanished like a mirage.

 

Suddenly, the sound of a message notification interrupted Chen Qianqing’s train of thought.
He picked up his phone and glanced at it: it was Lu Zhengfei.
“Darling, go to sleep early, good night.”

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Chen Qianqing didn’t send anything back.

He conveniently turned off his phone and lamp, bundling up in his blanket.
Even if he felt extremely tired he just couldn't fall asleep, so he ended up staring at the falling snow and distant lamp lights outside the window.

 

Chen Qianqing was in a daze for a while, unable to keep track of the march of time.
He couldn’t sleep at all, so he finally picked up his phone and found out that it was six o’clock.

 

In winter, six o’clock in the morning felt almost like evening.

 

Chen Qianqing dawdled for a while, but eventually got up.
After putting on his clothes, he carefully opened his bedroom’s door and walked out.

 

Liu Huamei was awake, getting up earlier than everyone else so that she could prepare breakfast as per usual.
Seeing Chen Qianqing coming out of the bedroom, she was stunned.
“Qianqing, why don’t you sleep more?”

 

Chen Qianqing, “I have something to do.”

 

Liu Huamei, “You’re heading out? What do you need to go out so early for…”

 

Chen Qianqing, “My classmate called me and asked me to do something, I’ll be back for lunch.”

 

On New Year’s first day, family members would usually be together.
However, Chen Qianqing’s family wasn’t particular about unspoken rules; Liu Huamei just stopped for a moment, then nagged him to mind his own safety.

 

Chen Qianqing ate whatever dumpling his mother had cooked, then grabbed an umbrella and went out.

 

There was even more snow than yesterday.
It could be considered an extraordinary sight in City C, but the new Chen Qianqing wasn’t the one who had rarely seen snow: he wasn’t excited in the slightest.

 

Stepping on the soft snow, he slowly headed towards the hotel.

 

Lu Zhengfei’s room was on the 23rd floor.
Chen Qianqing used the elevator to get there, then rang his doorbell.

 

After several attempts, there was still no response.
Chen Qianqing wondered if Lu Zhengfei was still sleeping and fished out his phone.

 

He called once, but no one answered.
The second time he tried, the phone rang seven or eight times before Lu Zhengfei finally picked up.

“Hello.”

 

The moment Lu Zhengfei opened his mouth, Chen Qianqing had figured out what happened.
Because the other’s voice was husky: a single word and he knew that the situation wasn’t any good.

 

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Chen Qianqing, “Open the door, I’m here.”

 

Lu Zhengfei was quiet for a while.
Chen Qianqing heard the sound of someone getting out of bed, followed by stumbling to the door.

 

Lu Zhengfei opened the door with great difficulty.
When Chen Qianqing had woken him up with his call, a headache had split his head in half.
He was so exhausted that when he heard Chen Qianqing’s voice, it took a while before he understood what he meant.

 

As the door opened, Chen Qianqing walked in.
He didn’t expect to come upon an abnormally red Lu Zhengfei.

 

Chen Qianqing, “Why is your face so red?”

 

Lu Zhengfei felt that he didn’t have the strength to reach the door again.
However, he didn’t want to look weak in front of Chen Qianqing, so he leaned against the wall and slowly shook his head.
“I’m alright.”

 

Chen Qianqing didn’t comment; he just pulled Lu Zhengfei by the wrist and brought him back to the bed.

 

Lu Zhengfei was shirtless, wearing only a pair of black briefs.

As Chen Qianqing pulled him, he felt like he was pulling soft noodles instead of a human.
Lu Zhengfei kept repeating, “I’m fine…”

 

Chen Qianqing knit his brows, raising his hand to feel Lu Zhengfei’s forehead.
He was scalding.

 

Lu Zhengfei was still where he had been placed on the bed.
His eyes were half-closed, his voice weak and feeble.
“Qianqing, you came to see me.”

 

Right now, Chen Qianqing was seriously considering leaving him be.
If he watched Lu Zhengfei helplessly turn into an idiot because of a fever, wouldn’t that be for the best?

(1.)

 

It was common to say that a crying child gets a bottle of milk(1.).
Well, both Lu Zhengfei and Chen Qianqing would never cry, even on the brink of death.
If Chen Qianqing were greatly inconvenienced, he wouldn’t tell Lu Zhengfei.
If Lu Zhengfei felt uncomfortable anywhere, he likewise wouldn’t admit it.
Both of them wished to keep their dignity; they didn’t realize how high the price to pay was.

 

Chen Qianqing touched Lu Zhengfei’s forehead again.
After ten minutes, he calmly ordered, “Go put your clothes on, I’ll take you to the hospital.”

 

Lu Zhengfei groaned, saying nothing.

 

Creases formed in-between Chen Qianqing's eyebrows, yet he still grabbed Lu Zhengfei’s clothes for him to wear.

 

Lu Zhengfei’s fever was so high that it made him a little muddle-headed.
His skin wasn’t as pale as Chen Qianqing’s; rather, it was closer to the color of wheat.

Because of that, a flush wouldn't usually show up on his face; but right now, Chen Qianqing could clearly see it had turned red, a deep red.

 

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Chen Qianqing made Lu Zhengfei wear his shirt and coat.
There wasn’t anything good to say about his current look, everything was wrinkly.

 

But right now, there was nothing he could do about it.

 

Chen Qianqing supported the weakened Lu Zhengfei.
It was extremely difficult to head downstairs, and even more difficult to call over a taxi to rush to the hospital.

 

The day before, Lu Zhengfei had told him that his flight was at ten o’clock.
It could be assumed that he wouldn't be able to make it in time.

 

Chen Qianqing checked his watch: it was 7:11 am.
By the time they’d reach the hospital, it would be 7:30.

 

Lu Zhengfei got in the car and lay on Chen Qianqing’s leg.
His vision was hazy, as if he had already lost consciousness.

 

Upon seeing this, the fifty-something year old driver asked, “What happened? Is he drunk?”

 

Chen Qianqing came up with a random excuse.
“No, he was playing in the snow, so he became feverish.”

 

Driver, “How could you not get a fever, if you wear so little clothing? Aiya.
You’re still young.
When you’re young, you’re so reckless.
Wait until you’re older to have regrets.”

 

Chen Qianqing looked at Lu Zhengfei’s cotton sweater and shirt, keeping quiet.

 

The driver started conversing with Chen Qianqing while driving, the latter idly replying.

 

When they were about to reach their destination, Chen Qianqing took off his coat and laid it on Lu Zhengfei.
He paid the driver, then helped Lu Zhengfei out of the taxi.

 

To tell the truth, since his family had a specialized doctor he would go to the hospital only in case of serious illness; and even then, there would be someone else to manage procedures for him.
Therefore, Chen Qianqing could be said to be unfamiliar with paperwork.

 

So between him consulting someone and Lu Zhengfei lying down on the bed to undergo medical treatment, twenty minutes had already been wasted.

 

After a check-up, the doctor reported, “39.8°C, almost forty degrees.
It’s a good thing you brought him here.
If you hadn’t, he could’ve gotten pneumonia.”

Chen Qianqing had just taken the stairs back to the sixth floor, having paid the hospital bill on the second floor.
He panted, “Is it just a fever?”

 

Doctor, “At the moment, it appears to be a simple fever.
If you’re in doubt, we can perform a full check-up.”

 

Chen Qianqing, “Thank you.”

 

Lu Zhengfei was lying down with an IV drip in his right hand, his eyes tightly shut.
It looked like he was already asleep.

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Chen Qianqing took back his own coat, wore it and sat next to Lu Zhengfei’s bed.
He looked at the person who was soundly sleeping – he was still soft-hearted towards himself.
The real Chen Qianqing would’ve looked on while Lu Zhengfei’s fever slowly turned him into an idiot.

 

Chen Qianqing wiped his face; he felt like smoking, but in the end he didn’t take the cigarette out of his pocket.
Instead he said, “Lu Zhengfei, you can only blame yourself for your own sins(2.)…”

(2.)

 

Obviously, Lu Zhengfei didn’t respond.
Chen Qianqing sat for a while, then suddenly felt a little thirsty.
He got up, ready to walk out and buy water, only to be stopped by the rings of Lu Zhengfei’s phone.

 

Chen Qianqing turned, picked up said phone and checked the caller.
He then pressed the ‘accept call’ button.

 

The person on the other side of the phone sounded familiar.
“Lu Zhengfei, where did you run off to? If you don’t come back home, your dad will skin you alive!”

 

Chen Qianqing looked at Lu Zhengfei, replying indifferently, “Ruan Wenhong, your cousin is sleeping.”

 

Ruan Wenhong was silent for a minute before finding his voice again.
He nearly growled, “Chen Qianqing, Lu Zhengfei is with you?!”

 

Chen Qianqing, neither quickly nor slowly, ‘En.’

 

An audible gasp came out of the phone.
Based on his understanding of Ruan Wenhong, Chen Qianqing reckoned that his cousin was about to lash out.

 

Sure enough, after a while Ruan Wenhong coldly commanded, “Give the phone to Lu Zhengfei.”

(3.)

 

Upon hearing this, Chen Qianqing laughed.
His soft, gentle manner of speaking was like that of a white lotus(3.) who seemingly couldn’t understand anything, “Zhengfei was tired yesterday, so he’s still asleep.”

 

Ruan Wenhong, “…”

He nearly started cursing – fuck.

 

 

Footnotes:

 

‘A crying child gets a bottle of milk’ – idiom meaning that someone who acts weak will garner more sympathy from others.

‘You can only blame […]’ – this is one half of the saying “天作孽,犹可;自作孽,不可活”, which means “When the heavens bring calamities, there’s still hope.
When the calamity is brought upon oneself, there is no hope.” The latter half of this saying is the one used here.

‘White lotus’ – someone who is pure in appearance, but opposite inside.

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