Qi Han had been lying in bed for five days, mostly in a half-drowsy state, and was now in great spirits. Seeing Fu Ge and Ah Jue snuggling up on his bed and sleeping so well, he naturally refused to waste time sleeping.
He first carefully tucked each corner of the quilt for the two of them, then took out Fu Ge’s hand from under his cheek, afraid that it would get numb after a while, and finally lay on his side next to Ah Jue, carefully releasing some pheromones for them to smell.
The pheromones of the bellflower were very special and could both attack and soothe.
At the peak, the concentration of pheromones released by Qi Han could suddenly increase hundredfold in a short period of time. The invisible coercion was like a spiked net densely wrapping the whole body, and no one within fifty metres could approach him.
But when the spikes were withdrawn, the soft and distant fragrance was the most effective tranquiliser for the Alpha’s mate. Even if Fu Ge couldn’t smell it, he could still feel the gentle fragrance of the bellflower enveloping his body.
The two babies, one big and one small, were so comfortable that they rubbed against the pillows, especially Fu Ge, who felt the familiar smell nearby. He closed his eyes and the tip of his nose twitched as he searched and sniffed more of the smell.
Qi Han looked amused, put his finger on the tip of Fu Ge’s nose and rubbed it, murmuring, “Are you looking for me?”
The little Beta didn’t open his eyes; he just raised his hand to catch Qi Han’s fingers, put his hand on his face, and then took a deep breath contentedly.
He didn’t say anything superfluous, but he was using every tiny gesture to tell Qi Han that he needed him all the time.
For Qi Han, being needed was the happiest thing, especially being needed by his lover and his family.
Although most high-level Alphas were beastly in nature and had almost perverted possessiveness in their bones, they also had a strong sense of responsibility for their families and loved ones. They would never cheat or betray. On the contrary, they would always accompany and protect their families like the head wolf guarding a wolf pack.
Qi Han had a lot of things, but he really wanted very little.
It was the first time the child smelled Qi Han’s pheromones, but he was unexpectedly more sensitive than Fu Ge. Qi Han guessed that Ah Jue might differentiate into Alpha or Omega in the future. But whether it was A or O, Qi Han would take care of him as his own son.
As he was thinking about it, the little guy called out “papa” in a sticky voice, and his chubby hand next to his face scratched uneasily, as if he was looking for something.
“Do you want your daddy?” Qi Han took Fu Ge’s fingers and put them in Ah Jue’s palm. The little fat hand grabbed his father’s fingers and held them tightly.
Qi Han wanted to laugh when he saw it, and as soon as he was about to get up, he heard the child call with his eyes closed: “Han papa… hand hand…” (still Han for ‘silly’)
The Alpha was stunned for a moment, a bit incredulous, “You want… me?”
He became inexplicably nervous, and even a little at a loss. He leaned over and lay on the edge of the bed, then carefully put his index finger into the palm of the child’s other hand. The moment it was clenched, his heart suddenly softened into mush.
Young life, soft palm, trust and attachment from the child… These were things that Qi Han didn’t dare to dream of.
Just a week ago, he completely gave up hope and was ready to die alone, without even a single relic that could be buried with him.
But a week later, not only did he have the love of his life back, he also had a lovely, soft child and the family of three he had always dreamed of.
It seemed that these seven months of pain and torture were nothing more than a nightmare. When he woke up from the dream, the pain was gone, and Fu Ge had been by his side since they were eighteen years old, never suffering or separated.
He waited for the child to fall asleep again before he got up, stroked Ah Jue’s forehead with his warm palm and kissed his chubby face.
Thank you for not being afraid of me, and thank you for your willingness to give me a home with Xiao Ge.
Turning off the flash, he took a group photo of the three of them in the faint street light outside the window. The photo was naturally dim. Neither Fu Ge nor Qi Han’s face could be seen clearly, but the light seemed to be extraordinarily sensible, illuminating the child holding their hands.
Qi Han dropped a kiss on the photo, and wrote a note: In the spring of the new year, I have my own family.
Fu Ge was tossed by him all afternoon and fell asleep without even eating dinner. Qi Han was afraid that he and the child would be hungry when they woke up. Qi Han planned to go downstairs to get the two of them something to eat.
The place where he was recuperating was Fu Ge’s private club. It was highly secluded and much safer, with Fu Ge’s people inside and out. Qi Han’s current status was still a death row prisoner, so at least he couldn’t go out and show up in public.
He took a separate elevator to the first floor, and there was a small kitchen around the corner. When Qi Han entered, the chef was making bone stew. The rich meat fragrance mixed with the sweetness of yam wafted all over the room, making Qi Han’s fingers tingle.
“Yo, what brings you here?” The chef treated him with respect, bowed and said, “The soup won’t be ready until tomorrow, what would you like to eat? I’ll make it for you.”
“No, I’ll do it myself.”
Qi Han took the apron and put it on skillfully, picked out a few potatoes and got ready to cook Fu Ge’s fries.
The chef looked stunned, surprised to see how skillfully he was cutting the vegetables, “Is this for Little Master?”
“No, for Young Master.”
The chef frowned, “He can’t eat this, a person who is recovering from a serious illness needs to drink soup, how can he eat this messy junk food!”
Qi Han was a bit surprised: “Has he never asked you to make fries?”
Qi Han was taken aback for a moment, then laughed, thinking that Fu Ge didn’t want to let people know about his child-like preferences; but in fact, the little Beta hadn’t eaten French fries again after Qi Han was gone.
While he put the processed potatoes into the pot, Qi Han’s head was full of Fu Ge holding the plate of French fries and eating them carefully. He told the chef: “Xiao Ge loves to eat these improper snacks. When I’m away, can you make him a little bit? Don’t do too much, just a small plate. If he eats too much, he won’t eat anything else.”
The chef rubbed his big belly and smiled very simply and honestly: “A man in his twenties still likes to eat this snack for children. Young Master is quite interesting.”
Qi Han also laughed, like a parent showing off a child, “Well, sometimes he doesn’t seem to grow up.”
He wants to eat French fries but never takes the initiative to say so. He loves to be pampered but is hard-mouthed and won’t admit it. He likes to listen to bedtime stories and always waits for Qi Han to take the initiative to find out… obviously so childish but always pretending to be mature in front of him and wanting to protect him.
As soon as Qi Han thought of these things, his heart felt ridiculously soft, as if it became a container for collecting happiness, filled to the brim by Fu Ge.
“If only he could really keep growing up forever and be a young master for the rest of his life, and not be trampled on like he was a few years ago.” The chef thought of something and sighed with emotion.
Qi Han’s hand paused, and his heart suddenly tightened, “Did you know him before?”
“Yes, I did. At that time, I was working as a handyman in a restaurant. Young Master was in charge of washing vegetables and dishes. He looked very eye-catching. Within a few days, everyone knew that he was the son of the murderer Fu Zhenying. The boss couldn’t stand him and joined forces with the kitchen staff to bully him.”
Qi Han’s lips trembled, as if a big hole opened in his chest, and the pain made him afraid to breathe, “How did those people… how did they bully him?”
The chef took off his hat, threw it on the table and said angrily: “What could they do? Just those shady tricks that can’t be seen.”
“Knowing that he had a lung disease and was weak, the boss deliberately made him do dirty work and tiring work, dumping food waste, moving buckets of water upstairs and downstairs, peeling potatoes in cold water. He made him do laundry for other cooks and added vinegar and salt to his meals. Master was just nineteen at the time, and he suffered so many sins.”
With his fingernails stuck into his palms, Qi Han blinked his red eyes stiffly, and even his heartbeat stopped, “You said he had a lung disease, he… he even had a lung disease… Was it cured later?”
“Lung disease burns money. Where could he get money, ah? He was bullied in the restaurant for a month and coughed blood every day. It was finally time to get a salary to buy medicine, and guess what?”
Qi Han subconsciously held his breath, his eyes flushed: “What?…”
“The major shareholder came to the restaurant for dinner and said that he was too thin and it affected his appetite. The boss drove him away that day and didn’t pay him a penny!”
With a clang, the plate fell to the ground and shattered to pieces.
The Alpha stood blankly over the pile of the French fries. His low voice seemed to tear his throat: “The restaurant… What was its name?”
The chef said, “Yue Xiang.”
With a knife plunged straight into his heart, Qi Han opened his mouth, completely stunned.
He had a superb memory and could remember most of the details of what happened around him when he was not out of control. Because it rained that day, the car broke down and his shoes were soaked with mud, it was particularly memorable.
Qi Han remembered that he was invited to inspect a restaurant and saw a skinny man shrinking behind the fat chef, looking so malnourished that he could make people lose their appetite.
Normally Qi Han wouldn’t have bothered, but on that day he was in such a bad mood that he deliberately picked on the man, pointed at him and said, “In the future, pay attention to your image.”
But he never thought it was this comment that cost Fu Ge the job he had worked so hard to hold on to and the money he had desperately earned to save his life.
Did the little Beta know that he didn’t recognise him? Did he know that he just said it casually? Did he know that he didn’t deliberately cut off his last lifeline?
Qi Han had no way of knowing, and didn’t dare to verify it.
Lung disease was serious enough to kill, and Fu Ge was already coughing blood frequently at that time. If he delayed any longer, he might not have been able to be cured.
Fu Ge obviously knew that his life was in danger, so he worked hard. No matter how hurt or tired he was, he didn’t give up, and he didn’t shed a tear even when he was humiliated and scolded by others.
It was not that he was so tough and unyielding, he just didn’t want to die like this. He was just nineteen years old, and he wanted to live like a human being again.
But Qi Han’s words ruined all his efforts.
The lover who had nearly killed him had to extinguish his last humble, pitiful hope.
Qi Han thought, when Xiao Ge shrank behind the fat chef and watched him that day, what was he thinking when he looked at the boy he once loved so much not even leaving him the last way to live?
There should have been only one question hidden in his heart for many years without an answer: How can you… be so cruel to me?…
Qi Han’s vision went black and he slid to the floor like a deflated ball. The chef exclaimed in fright and rushed to help him, but Qi Han just pushed away the man’s hand in a daze and said, “You can go…”
He looked at the French fries that had fallen to the floor, at the potatoes soaked in water, and suddenly put his hand into the basin. In just five minutes, his fingertips were frozen and numb, but his little Beta’s fingers had to be immersed in cold water for a whole day.
Those were the hands that used to draw…
On a normal day, Qi Han wouldn’t let him carry something a little heavier or touch something a little hotter, but Fu Ge suffered this kind of crime while he didn’t know it, and not just for a while, but for two years.
So delicate, how on earth did he have to grit his teeth to endure it…
Did he beg the boss to give him money when he was driven away?
Did he beg people to let him go when he was bullied?
When he was coughing blood again and again but didn’t even have the money to buy medicine, did he ever beg God not to torture him anymore?
When he watched Qi Han sit in a high-end restaurant eating a meal that he couldn’t afford with a month’s salary and still looking disgusted, did he ever think about begging Qi Han to save him?
The answer should be “no”, at least to the last question.
Because his lung disease started during the fourteen days he was imprisoned, how could a person who had been abused to the point of having nightmares all night beg his own executioner?…
Qi Han thought that he was more vicious than the boss who had bullied Fu Ge. At least that man didn’t kill Fu Ge, but he did it twice in a row.
The knife inserted into his chest pierced his heart, and he was bleeding profusely. Qi Han tremblingly picked up the debris on the floor, and his fingers were cut several times without him noticing it.
His vision was blurred, and tears burst out of his hollow eyes. The Alpha suddenly coughed violently, clutched his chest and vomited a mouthful of blood.
Endless remorse cut his head like a steel wire, and his whole body was pierced by a myriad of swords and roasting over the flames. He could never forgive the crimes he had committed. His heart was like duckweed floating on the water, and there was no possibility of reaching the land.
Qi Han fried another plate of French fries and took it upstairs. He moved mechanically throughout the process, like a blind robot, stiff and rigid.
As soon as he got out of the elevator, he saw an unexpected visitor in the corridor. Qi Chuan looked at the plate in his hand and smiled helplessly. “Let’s talk?”
“Make it quick, it’s time for them to wake up.”
Qi Chuan nodded and gave him a stack of worn out drawing paper, “Take a look.”
Qi Han turned a few pages; all of them were drafts with messy lines. Some could barely be recognised as pictures of a man, and some were just dark clumps, “Did Xiao Ge draw them?”
“Yes, the month I found him, he tried to draw his real father.”
Qi Han’s eyes were blank for a moment, “Why is it so…”
“Messy?” Qi Chuan helped him complete the sentence. ”Because he didn’t remember what his real father looked like.”
“He lost his father when he was a child, and he didn’t have many memories of his father. He relied on some old photos and toys at home to remember him, but after Fu Zhenying was arrested, the police only gave him one day to take away his things.”
Qi Han’s pupils suddenly dilated when he heard the words, and he raised his eyes abruptly. He heard Qi Chuan say, “Thanks to you, he failed to go home, and there was nothing left.”
“No. 34 Linchuan Road is your father’s grave, right?” Qi Chuan looked at the sleeping person in the ward and said, “In the past few years, I have taken him there secretly countless times. During Qingming, Mid-Autumn Festival and Spring Festival, he had to wait for you to leave and then sat in front of Mr. Qi’s tomb for a while. Do you want to know why?”
Qi Han had already been shocked into dumbness a long time ago. Every bone and every nerve in his whole body were numb with pain, and his breath burned as he gasped: “Why?”
Qi Chuan said, “Because he can’t find his father’s grave.”
“Maybe you remember the last day he was imprisoned by you five years ago. He didn’t hesitate to promise to accompany you and asked you to let him see Fu Zhenying in exchange.”
Qi Han couldn’t speak anymore; he just blinked in a daze, and the vessels in his bloodshot eyes seemed to be about to burst.
Qi Chuan spoke casually, giving him the deadliest blow, “Because only Fu Zhenying knew where his father was buried. Xiao Ge begged you so humbly just to ask where his father was buried.”
“But you broke your promise.”
“He didn’t get to keep the last things that his father left him because he was held captive by you on that only day. He tried countless times to paint his father’s portrait, but he couldn’t pick up a brush again because of those painful experiences. He paid respects to your father as to his own, because he could never find out where his father was buried.”
Qi Chuan straightened his collar, turned around and said the last sentence with dignity: “I don’t know what happened that night to make Xiao Ge forgive you again, but the Qi family has always respected his decision.”
“When it happened to him five years ago, Grandpa and I were a step too late. If you dare to hurt him again, I will give up my life to deal with you.”
After he finished speaking, he left Qi Han a small brocade box, turned and walked away.
Qi Han collapsed, holding onto the wall with one hand and supporting himself on the floor with the other, blood and sweat drying in a dirty mess at the corners of his mouth.
His bloodshot eyes stared ahead as if he was demented, and his whole body was so numb that he could no longer be described as the walking dead. He was like a mass of bloody flesh that had been crushed and stuck together.
The brocade box contained a delicate crystal key, and a note with the room number was pressed under it. Qi Han dragged himself step by step to the door of that room, inserted the key and opened the door.
With just one glance, he froze in place.
Bears, all little bears, many, many little bears…
There were little pink bears on the wallpapers. All kinds of bear dolls sat on the floor. And with a single glance at three full circles of display shelves occupying the walls Qi Han could tell that what was in there were all his and Fu Ge’s memories.
The blue and white school uniforms of the high school, the notes from the maths classes, a doodle of the two holding hands drawn by Fu Ge, the pomegranate-flavoured sparkling water he liked to buy when he played basketball, and a hawthorn flower made into a specimen…
Next to it was a brand new sketch book. When he opened the first page, he saw a young man playing basketball in the setting sun. The exact same little characters were written in the bottom right corner of the folded page—
“He is obviously the tallest Alpha in the crowd, but to me, he looks like a bear cub holding a honey jar when he’s holding a basketball. I like Ah Han the first day, he is very cute.”
The date was the end of summer seven years ago, the day they fell in love with each other at first sight.
The sketch book with March 11 written in it was nothing more than Fu Ge’s cover-up, and this sketch book was the gift that the little Beta really prepared for him.
He burned Qi Han’s relics when he hated him to the extreme, and after getting back together, he spent five days restoring all his remaining memories.
After turning the last page of the album, Qi Han slid down against the door panel as if all his strength was gone, and suddenly something fell onto his head. It was the wooden sign identical to the one in Room 404 at Shengde Hospital.
Fu Ge used a carving knife to carve a line of not-so-neat characters on it.
‘The Bear Cub Museum, for my beloved husband, may the rest of his life be free from pain and suffering and his years be peaceful.’
The crying Alpha hugged his legs and buried his face in his knees. A suppressed sob shattered the night. He held the sketch book tightly, his voice hoarse with pain: “Gege…”