A few wet marks stained the crumpled paper. Qi Han found the brush that Fu Ge had thrown away during the day and carefully coloured the blank place of the chubby heart.
Blow it dry, fold it in half, and put it back under the pillow.
“I helped gege to colour it, it’s just not very good…”
His voice was hoarse as if he had swallowed sand, and his wet eyes were red, “Don’t cry anymore, don’t be afraid, let’s take our time. I will accompany gege to cure the illness in his body and the illness in his heart. Hold on for a while, okay?”
Qi Han pressed Fu Ge’s hand to his forehead, choking on a sob and closing his eyes tightly, as if pleading: “Hold on a little longer. If gege doesn’t want to live, then what am I going to do…”
“I also only have you, ah…”
After that day, Qi Han took it upon himself to increase the frequency of pheromone infusions to Fu Ge, which at the same time meant that the intensity of pheromone extraction would also increase, from one tube in two days to two tubes in three days. Qi Han’s body was so overdrawn that it almost went into shock.
The nausea and weakness became more and more severe, and the vomiting was so bad that he could barely eat anything and would immediately vomit it up even if he did. Even the nutrients that he had shoved in hard to keep the glands full didn’t stay in his stomach for long.
The frequent vomiting caused his stomach acid to corrode his throat, making it even more difficult to swallow food. There was a strong stinging pain even when he drank water.
Qi Han began to become taciturn and rarely spoke, especially in front of Fu Ge, because his voice was now hoarse and unpleasant and he was afraid that the little Beta would notice something.
However, it turned out that these fears were simply superfluous.
Coming out of the extraction room again, Qi Han walked slowly, holding onto the wall to support his body that could fall to the ground at any time. When he passed through the corridor, he suddenly heard Fu Ge’s voice, and when he came around the corner, he saw the young Beta looking up at Qi Chuan with a grateful expression, holding an insulation bucket filled with soup to nourish his body.
Fu Ge had stewed it himself, checked many tips, tried many kinds of recipes, stayed up all night stewing, and Qi Han knew at that time that this bowl of soup would not be given to him.
He lowered his head stiffly and subconsciously ducked back around the corner, listening to his lover’s considerate enquiries about Qi Chuan’s health, noticing even a slight nasal congestion the other man had.
Qi Han let out a bitter chuckle and leaned against the wall with his eyes closed, waiting for the two men to finally finish their pleasantries and leave together before he quickly ran into the bathroom, hugged the toilet and threw up violently.
He splashed a handful of water over his face and blinked his wet, bloodshot eyes. When he looked up and saw his almost unrecognisable self in the mirror, his voice sounded rough like an old hair dryer when he opened his mouth.
“He just has a stuffy nose and you can notice it, and I’m skinny and haggard, and gege can’t see it at all…”
Turning around, he saw Chen Xing standing behind him with the insulation bucket, his eyes red, cursing in a low voice.
“Your soup, Qi Chuan asked me to give it to you.”
Qi Han smiled helplessly, not too embarrassed, took the insulation bucket and patted him on the shoulder, “Thanks.”
“Thanks my ass.” Chen Xing wiped his eyes, “You haven’t eaten anything but nutrients this week, drink as much as you can, and let’s talk about it when you vomit.”
After saying that, he added, “I guess you can’t bear to vomit it either.”
Qi Han chuckled, “You’re the only one with such a sharp tongue.”
He didn’t think he couldn’t bear to vomit it, he probably couldn’t even bear to eat it.
Fu Ge’s hands were used for painting, and he hadn’t done any heavy work since he was a child, so the first time he got into the kitchen was to make pepper-and-hemp chicken for Qi Han.
The result was that after a morning of fiddling, pepper was pepper, hemp was hemp and chicken was chicken, and the half-raw meat was soaked in bitter and spicy blood.
Qi Han threw up for three days after eating it then, but now he missed that taste immensely, because no matter how bad it was, it was Fu Ge who cooked it for him alone, without him having to cheat out a bowl of soup in the name of someone else.
“If you know I drank the soup, I guess you’ll be angry again.”
Qi Han mumbled to himself as he opened the insulation bucket, the overwhelming scent making his whole body hot.
He didn’t know if it was because of Fu Ge or the fact that the soup was quite light, but for the first time in a long while, Qi Han didn’t feel nauseous and had an appetite instead.
The soup became the only thing he had been able to eat in a week, and he swallowed it with a searing sensation in his throat, his stomach finally filled up, making him feel so comfortable that it was hard to adapt.
He couldn’t even bear to finish drinking it all, so he only poured a bowl and sipped it slowly, and wanted to keep the rest until he finished extracting the pheromones tomorrow.
The lunch alone was too quiet, so Qi Han silently took out his phone to find a recording and tapped on it to hear Fu Ge’s voice.
The audio was recorded by chance. One time Qi Han’s reaction after extracting pheromones was too severe and he fell off the bed, accidentally touching the recording button on his phone, only to find out what had been recorded when he returned to his room.
He cut out Qi Chuan’s voice, leaving only Fu Ge, and would listen to it every night when he was in pain to the point of insomnia. He knew those lines by heart.
Fu Ge asked Qi Chuan, “Do your glands still hurt?”
“It hurts, it hurts to death…” Qi Han replied with his head down, stirring the soup in the bowl, pretending that all that concern was for him.
“I heard the doctor say that extracting too many pheromones can cause insomnia and vomiting. Have you slept well the last few days? How is your appetite? Is it okay if I make you some light soup?”
Qi Han sniffled and squeezed out a smile, “I didn’t sleep well, gege always bullied me in my dreams and shouted at me, but I got the soup.”
He added with pursed lips, “Stole it.”
The little Beta continued to talk, and Qi Han answered carefully, one sentence at a time, his eyes growing more and more wet and flushed, and his throat burning more and more from the sting of the soup.
The door suddenly opened behind him, and Qi Han, thinking it was Chen Xing, said without looking back, “Give me the list of those who will participate in the bidding for inhibitors this afternoon.”
Three seconds passed without a sound behind him. Qi Han immediately turned off the recording and stood up, turning his head to see Fu Ge standing behind him expressionlessly.
“What are you doing?” The young Beta’s cold eyes fell on the insulation bucket.
Qi Han’s brain was all but wooden and he subconsciously hid the soup bucket behind his back, like a thief who stole things, so guilty that he didn’t dare to look at Fu Ge.
In a matter of seconds, he thought of a dozen ways to defend himself, clearing his throat several times before he could make a sound properly, but he only said two words from beginning to end: “Gege, I—”
With a clang, Fu Ge knocked the insulation bucket to the ground and turned to leave without even looking at him.
Qi Han froze on the spot, looking at the mess all over the floor and smiling bitterly, finishing the sentence he started: “I only drank a little…”
That night Qi Han drew a second tube of pheromones and added half of it to Fu Ge’s medicine, standing outside the one-way glass watching the young Beta finish his infusion, lazy and drowsy.
Qi Chuan gave him the brooch, and Fu Ge hung it on the wall directly above his bed. He looked at it every night for a long time, his eyes focused as if he was about to sink into the whirlpool of complex numbers on it.
Qi Han waited for him to fall asleep before going in, taking the brooch off and checking it over and over again to make sure there were no bugs or cameras before hanging it back.
He sat down on the edge of Fu Ge’s bed and took out the ointment for burns he had just received.
The soup spilled out when Fu Ge knocked over the insulation bucket and burned Fu Ge, leaving a large red spot on the back of his right hand.
“You don’t know to put medicine on it even if it’s burnt like this.” Qi Han whispered, putting the ointment on his hand carefully and helplessly: “It’s just a little bit of your soup, and you’re so angry. Is gege a puffer fish?”
“Besides it’s not that I was looking for it, Qi Chuan wouldn’t drink it, that’s why Chen Xing brought it to me. Qi Chuan is as strong as an ox, does he still need the nourishment?”
He paused, blinking his wet flushed eyes slowly. His words were mixed with grievances that he only dared to speak out in the dead of night: “I am so thin right in front of you, isn’t gege distressed at all?”
He rubbed Fu Ge’s hand, lightly kissing the back of it where the infusion needle was stuck, with a lump in his throat: “So what if I really was looking for it, it was my pheromone in the first place.”
“It’s all my stuff flowing inside you, why are you so fierce about it…”
The little Beta seems to be woken up, frowning and rubbing his face. Qi Han immediately went silent and looked at him nervously.
Fortunately, Fu Ge just rolled over and went back to sleep, scratching his head uncomfortably, as if something was prickling him.
Qi Han put his hand under his pillow and groped around, pulling out a small blue brocade box. He opened it; it contained a pair of men’s diamond rings.
Those were the wedding rings designed by Fu Ge himself when he was eighteen years old.
Qi Han thought they had been lost in the dilapidated building that day, but he didn’t expect them to be in Fu Ge’s hands.
Qi Han’s eyes instantly turned red. His lips opened and closed, unable to speak, before he finally turned his head and let out a deep breath.
He held Fu Ge’s hand and managed a bitter smile, looking at the pair of rings and then at his lover, his heart sour and numb to the core.
“Gege remembers too, right? Today is… our wedding anniversary. It’s been five years exactly…”
The eighteen-year-old boy was about to deliver the rest of his life to his beloved in front of all his friends and family. Fu Ge had drawn dozens of sketches of the wedding venue alone and had stayed up for months to design the pair of diamond rings.
He wrote in that sketch book, “I couldn’t be more excited for my husband to wear the ring I designed with my own hands. Ah Han will be the most handsome man in the wedding hall.”
The young man who was usually too shy to say even a slightly intimate word of affection secretly referred to Qi Han as “my husband” in the album.
The pure-hearted Alpha was also so excited that he couldn’t sleep, suddenly getting up in the middle of the night to go to the swimming pool to vent for several laps and coming back to see Fu Ge nestled under the blanket so nicely that his heart was tingling.
The child who had been alone for several years was finally going to start his own family with his beloved, whom he secretly loved for nearly two years; how could he not look forward to it?
Both of them were counting down the minutes and seconds until the wedding.
But unfortunately the wedding was not completed after all.
All of Qi Han’s love ended when he accidentally overheard the “truth”, and Fu Ge never had the chance to put the ring on his lover’s hand.
After falling from heaven to hell in an instant, he ruined all Fu Ge’s intentions and turned his lover into what he was now with his own hands.
“If I hadn’t made those mistakes, trusted gege a little more, checked a little more carefully, wouldn’t the ending have been completely different…”
He couldn’t help but start to fantasise about what the two would be like now if the wedding had gone off without a hitch.
Five years into their marriage, they would both have their own careers, Qi Han being the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Fu Ge becoming a painter known far and wide.
His paintings would be displayed all over the country, and his gentle and elegant temperament would impress every audience. They would also adopt a baby as cute as the little boy and have the happiest family of three.
But Fu Ge was right, he had ruined all of that.
No matter what the reason was, those injuries remained in Fu Ge’s body and could never be healed.
“Does gege want to put a ring on my finger…”
During the half month of captivity, Fu Ge was tortured to the point of near death countless times and still stubbornly tried to put the ring on his hand, begging him to believe him.
Only the end result was that the ring was either knocked away or trampled on the ground.
Qi Han took a deep breath and took out the slightly larger diamond ring and put it on himself, while the other one slowly slipped onto Fu Ge’s finger.
There were injuries on both their hands wrapped in thick gauze, the old and new scars of different shades; as if two scarred hearts overlapped each other.
Qi Han lowered his head and kissed the diamond ring on Fu Ge’s finger with incomparable devotion, his low voice solemn and mournful as he secretly made up for the wedding after a five-year delay: “Xiao Ge, we’re married.”
Yet when he looked up, he saw that the young Beta had opened his eyes at some point and was staring straight at him.
“Is today the wedding anniversary? I forgot about it a long time ago.”
Qi Han instantly felt like falling into an ice cellar, stiffening as he listened to Fu Ge say, “I didn’t take out the rings to reminisce on our wedding that never happened. How cheap I’d have to be to do something like that.”
He sat up, clutched Qi Han’s hand to take off the ring, and with a flick removed the diamonds that had been loosened during the day. The disgust in his eyes was unconcealed in the process, as if what he had held so dear back then had become unsightly trash.
“What are you going to do…” Qi Han was almost unable to hear his own voice.
Fu Ge said, “Let it play its last role.”
“As a return gift for the brooch, I’m going to make these two diamond rings into a tie clip and give it to Mr. Qi.”
In an instant it was as if lightning had struck him. Qi Han’s body burned with pain, his eyes opened in disbelief and a rusty taste rushed to his throat.
“But that’s my ring… my wedding ring…”
How could he give it to someone else…
Fu Ge just glanced at him, took off the other diamond ring from his finger and said, “Then call the police.”