IPC Chapter 32: The Shell Cracks Open

Interstellar Power Couple

Translator: Lala

Quality Check: Leslie

Editor: Chesh

First Published on Chaleuria

Chapter 32: The Shell Cracks Open

“Eldest Young Master, the Master and the Madam will be arriving back home in another fifteen minutes or so.” Su Erman was taking frequent glances at the door. “It’s best if you stop rummaging around. If the Master were to know that you were secretly looking through his belongings….”

“Enough already! It’s a given that he’d know already, right, but so what? What will he do, beat me to death?” After putting the documents he had looked through roughly back in their positions, Lei Haige straightened his body and put his hands on his hips. “Could it be here after all?” He glared at the safe in front of him. “It’s the only one that’s yet to be opened.”

“This box needs three different biometric samples from the master to open. It would be best for us to quickly leave.” Su Erman felt lashes of pain in his temples at the mere thought of Lei Jianying’s reaction when he found out that someone had rummaged through his belongings. 

“If you’re scared, you can go back. You don’t need to be here,” Lei Haige said, then looked around a little while more before suddenly coming to stand in front of the electronic bookshelf. 

The electronic bookshelves here were about the same size as a shoebox in terms of surface area, but they could hold thousands of book chips inside. These book chips were about the same size of a fingernail at most, but after being placed in a communicator they would reveal a whole book’s—or even a whole series of books’—worth of content. One could use their communicators to project the books onto the walls to read, as well as do other things, such as taking notes and so forth. Furthermore, there was no worry of it being easily lost because of its small size, because after placing the book chips on the electronic bookshelf, they would automatically be sorted according to category. Finding them was also just a matter of saying the titles aloud to the electronic bookshelf. 

It wasn’t, in fact, Lei Haige’s first time entering his father’s study, nor was it his first time seeing the bookshelf before him. This was his first time knowing that his father actually read books like plant encyclopedias, however. 

Hadn’t he always read animal ability and military-related books before?

Looking at the latest entry in the reading history of the electronic bookshelf, Lei Haige read the title of the book out loud, then picked up the tiny book chip that the electronic bookshelf had spat out.

“Eldest young master, the master is almost home.” Su Erman’s tone was audibly more nervous than before.

“I know.” Lei Haige gripped the book chip in hand, calling the new domestic robot to come and give the room a quick cleaning, and telling it to do its best not to leave any traces. He then got on his aircraft and headed to the new house he shared with Feng Gu at top speed. 

Lei Jianying was just wondering why his son was finally listening to him, when he went into the study. It was only then that he found out it was because Lei Haige had touched his belongings!

He opened the real-time monitoring system of the room and saw his son rifling through his study for a long time, and taking his ‘Plant Encyclopedia’!

Seeing her husband’s expression turn ugly, Yu Fenglai asked, “What’s wrong? You’re so unhappy as soon as you get home. You’re the one pushing our son to go back to the Feng house every day, aren’t you? So why do you look so grim now that he’s gone?”

Lei Jianying recalled the notes he had made within the book, and said to the robot housekeeper, “Don’t let anyone into my study in the future.”

The new robot housekeeper was still called Emily. She accepted the order and quietly left. 

***

At this time, Lei Haige had already arrived home and was currently projecting the book onto the wall. However, the book recorded every single plant that humanity had discovered up until now; there was no way he could read it all at once. So Lei Haige could only go through it page by page, looking for anything that seemed out of place. He found nothing strange while he was flipping through, though, only the content that the book itself came with. 

He’d searched for ages, only to bring back this piece of trash. In his anger, Lei Haige flipped to the very last page—and it was on this page that he finally saw something different from the rest of the content. He saw the two words written at the top: ‘There’s none’.

It was almost as if he could feel the intangible disappointment through these two simple words. 

But none of what?

Just as Lei Haige was puzzling over this, Feng Gu returned. It was only then that Lei Haige realised he had unknowingly been reading through the stupid encyclopedia for hours!

Feng Gu seemed a little surprised that Lei Haige had taken the initiative to come back, but because he had seen Lei Jue not long ago he couldn’t resist comparing the two. With this mindset, even though Lei Haige was back, it did nothing for his mood. Before, he’d thought that aside from not being as good looking as Lei Jue, Lei Haige was better than him in all other aspects. Now, however, he realized that he had been utterly blind back then. Be it looks, ability, or personality, Lei Haige had nothing on Lei Jue. If he had to name something of Lei Haige’s that was better, then the only thing he could say was that his family background was a little better than Lei Jue’s. But in the face of Lei Jue’s A-rank wood abilities, that was nothing at all. 

Lei Haige switched off the projector and asked, “Why’d you come back so late?”

It was already 1AM where they were. 

Feng Gu frowned in irritation, taking off his clothes and tossing them carelessly on the floor before falling onto the bed. He had already changed out of the combat uniform he had worn on Mount Rikalun and was just wearing regular clothing now. 

He had also very obviously been drinking. 

Lei Haige was already displeased from not being able to unravel Lei Jue’s secret, and seeing how Feng Gu was ignoring him despite Lei Haige having come home of his own initiative, his anger boiled over. But just as he was about to say something, Feng Gu suddenly leapt over and pressed Lei Haige underneath his body, tearing fiercely at his clothes and kissing him. 

The scent of alcohol mixed with sweat made him a little nauseous, but after some thinking, Lei Haige didn’t push him away. He knew that, even if he didn’t want to admit it, his father was right. His top priority now should be cementing his status within the Feng family, otherwise he would be a laughing stock in the future. 

Despite feeling some discomfort, Lei Haige still slowly responded to Feng Gu’s ministrations. But the thing that really made Feng Gu explode in rage happened right after that. The moment Feng Gu entered his body, he called out a name—but the name wasn’t ‘Haige’, it was ‘Lei Jue’!

Feng Gu had closed his eyes, burying his face in the crook of Lei Haige’s neck. He hugged him tightly, with the happiness of having gotten back something he’d lost. But Lei Haige, who had snapped out of his stunned stupor, couldn’t suffer it any longer no matter what. He directly kicked Feng Gu away, shouting, “F*ck off!”

Feng Gu had gone way too far!

Despite how skinny Lei Haige looked, he was an animal ability user, and his physical capabilities were about the same as Feng Gu’s. His kick pushed Feng Gu directly onto the floor, and Feng Gu’s mind finally cleared up a little. 

“Have you gone mad?!” Feng Gu got up and shouted.

“Even if I have, it’s because of you! Feng Gu, have you forgotten just who it is you’re married to!?” Lei Haige’s face turned green with fury, the tiny bit of lust that had only just slightly risen up disappearing without a trace.

“You, I’m sick of you!” Feng Gu went straight to the living room, the bedroom door slamming shut with a bang.

Lei Haige sat on the bed, breathing heavily. When the anger failed to disperse, he grabbed a pillow and violently threw it at the door. It was then, however, that he caught sight of the lit-up communicator he had placed on the nightstand out of the corner of his eyes. It was a message from an anonymous person. He picked it up and read it—it mentioned that Feng Gu had appeared together with Lei Jue today on Mount Rikalun!

Shortly after that, an earth-shattering roar rang out from the living room. “Will you shut up! I only went to help Zuo Feng find something, and we met Lei Jue by coincidence! Xiao Lingyu was present then anyway, so what could I possibly have done?!”

“So if Xiao Lingyu wasn’t present, you would’ve tried something? How despicable can you be! Even lying takes a little bit of skill! We’re separated by such a long distance, why is it that out of all possible occurrences, a meeting between you two happened? And you said you were finding something for Zuo Feng, what could you possibly find in a mountain? Does the Zuo family not have anyone else he could have asked to help him?!”

“We were looking for a plant! I’m a water-ability user, and he got me to help because when the plant he’s looking for breaks through the earth it needs a damp environment!” Feng Gu was probably too overcome with rage after he spoke, as he directly pulled out some clothes to put on before turning to leave. 

“Wait!” Lei Haige suddenly pulled him to a stop. “What plant!”

“He didn’t know the name either, he just showed me a picture.” Feng Gu was getting a little fed up with Lei Haige’s questions now, but he seemed to know that Lei Haige would keep pestering him over what picture it was, so he took the initiative to pull out the folder with the picture from his comm. But the first picture actually turned out to be a selfie he and Lei Jue had taken a very long time ago!

Lei Haige grit his teeth, remaining silent. After a distracted moment, Feng Gu quickly flipped to the next picture and showed the picture of the plant he talked about to Lei Haige. “This one. Whether you believe it or not is your problem.” When he finished speaking, he finally left the house. 

Lei Haige didn’t chase after him. He thought about it, then projected the ‘Plant Encyclopedia’ onto the wall once again, comparing the images one by one to see whether it had the plant Feng Gu had shown him. 

***

While this was going on, the sky still had yet to darken over Bulacca city. Xiao Lingyu and Lei Haige had invited the group of friends, who hadn’t yet played to their hearts’ content during the day, over to their floating villa for dinner. Lei Jue washed the drifter fruits, while Xiao Lingyu set the smart table at home to hot-pot mode. With this, the surface of the table, which had originally flat, caved in two places to form a pot.

The ingredients had already been ordered, and someone would soon deliver them. Xiao Lingyu ordered the robot servants to bring two bottles of wine from his collection for them all to drink. 

The group sat around the table, talking about what had happened at Mount Rikalun. 

Qi Yu scooped a spoonful of drifter fruit into his little bowl, smashing it into mush. Under everyone’s disgusted gaze, he spoke as he ate, “The way I see it, Zuo Feng and Feng Gu were looking for something. We retreated as soon as we could after Lingyu’s message. While we were retreating, we crossed paths with their people, but we avoided them. Each of them was holding a long stick, and their heads were lowered as they looked through the grass.”

“But what would Zuo Feng want to look for with the Feng brothers? He has so many people working for him, it couldn’t be because he needed the extra hands,” Lu Xian said. “When I first heard that they’d appeared together on Mount Rikalun, I thought they were going to do combat training.”

“If they were doing combat training, they wouldn’t be together.” Xiao Lingyu looked at Lei Jue. When Lei Jue was on Mount Rikalun, he kept looking up at the sky, while these people kept looking down at the ground. Why?

“Oh, right—when I was caught, I saw someone among them bring out a projection of the image of a plant,” Yu Le said. “But when they noticed my gaze, they quickly cancelled the projection, so I only saw its basic shape.”

“What did it look like, roughly?” Lei Jue asked. “Do you still remember what the leaves looked like? What shape was it, and how did the margins of the leaves look?”

Yu Le looked confused. “It was round, I think, but what is margin patterning?”

“It’s the shape of a leaf’s edge.” Lei Jue took his photon computer out, explaining for Yu Le, “Leaf shapes can be broadly categorized into six kinds: strip-shaped, lance-shaped, egg-like, oval, round, and heart-shaped. On the other hand, margin patternings are separated into entire, crenate, dentate, lobate, serrated, and double-serrated margins and so on. Would you be able to draw a vague image of it?”

Yu Le recalled the image and nodded. “I can try.”

Yu Le drew a leaf using the drawing app of the photon computer. After he saw it, Lei Jue said, “If Yu Le’s picture has an above eighty percent accuracy, then it should be a plant with heart-shaped leaves and lobed edges.” 

When he was done speaking, Lei Jue looked at Xiao Lingyu. After deliberation, however, he didn’t say anything else.

The food and fruit they had ordered online arrived very quickly, and since they only patronized Zhou Bin’s shop, they received a lot. Some vegetables were visibly just harvested, as fresh as could be.

With the day being as cold as it was, and with a big group of friends gathered round having a warm meal, the atmosphere was naturally very lively.

Lei Jue poured himself another glass of wine. Seeing Xiao Lingyu holding a glass as well, he smiled and said, “Hey, let me teach you another way of drinking.”

Xiao Lingyu hummed in reply, his slight tipsiness bringing a low, sensual timbre to his voice, “What way?”

Lei Jue held his cup, looping his arm through Xiao Lingyu’s. “This is called cross-arm drinking. Have you had it like this before?”

Xiao Lingyu shook his head, but he liked the intimacy Lei Jue was displaying with him, so he imitated Lei Jue, tipping his head back and downing the alcohol in his glass.

Lei Jue leaned in close, asking in a low voice, “Does it taste nice?”

Xiao Lingyu nodded, his ears faintly red. “It’s sweet.”

“Tsk tsk, I almost can’t bear to look at you guys.” After he spoke, Lu Xian suddenly copied Lei Jue, looping his arm around the crook of Qi Yu’s. “Come on, let’s try it too.”

“Fine by me.” Qi Yu drank it down without further ado. “Lei Jue, is there any special meaning in drinking it this way?”

“There is. I… read it in a traveller’s notes before.” Lei Jue smiled. “It’s said that local married couples would drink wine like this on the day of their wedding, and after drinking it, the two will be together through both fortune and hard times, tied tightly to one another.”

Hearing this, Xiao Lingyu couldn’t help but wrap Lei Jue in a hug, pressing a kiss onto his forehead. Meanwhile, Lu Xian and Qi Yu’s faces turned green.

What the heck was up with being ‘tied tightly to one another’!

Qi Yu spat. “Lu Xian, hurry up and get married! Like h*ll I want to be tied tightly to you!”

Lu Xian shuddered in repulsion. “Don’t flatter yourself. Who would want to be tightly tied to you, anyway?”

Xiao Lingyu watched the two bicker and fell silent, his thoughts a mystery. 

Lei Jue quickly detected the change, but the atmosphere in the room was lively and bustling so he didn’t ask. It was only when night fell and everyone left that he asked, “What’s wrong? You suddenly turned quiet.”

Xiao Lingyu said, “Go take a shower first. I’ll go out and walk off the alcohol. I’ll be back shortly.”

Lei Jue knew that Xiao Lingyu probably didn’t want to sober up all at once, so didn’t ask. After washing up in the bathroom, he got out and laid in bed to watch the news.

Xiao Lingyu only came back after roughly five minutes. He smiled at Lei Jue, then went to take a shower. After he had showered, as usual, he only wore a pair of plain pyjama pants. Then he burrowed under the covers.   

Lei Jue had originally wanted to talk about the heart-shaped, lobe-edged leaf, but Xiao Lingyu suddenly flipped over, pressing Lei Jue underneath his body and blocking the words from coming out of his mouth. 

Lei Jue’s brain stopped working then and there, his breathing instantly changing pace.

“Stop messing around!” Lei Jue did his best to avoid him. “F*ck, it’s too uncomfortable. Xiao Lingyu, you… have you not sobered up yet?”

“I’m sober. Don’t say anything, and don’t ask.” Xiao Lingyu’s voice was hoarse, and deep love pooled in his eyes. He kissed Lei Jue again, undoing Lei Jue’s pajama buttons one by one. Like a pious worshipper, he made his way down bit by bit, pressing kisses to Lei Jue’s neck, then chest, as if the person before his eyes were his religion. 

Lei Jue was anticipating a little, but also panicked. He didn’t know why Xiao Lingyu would suddenly do this, but he soon found out. If it had been the old Xiao Lingyu, he would have gotten hard just from lying on his body, but now there was no reaction at all!

Xiao Lingyu had said just before that he was going out to sober up…

Was it really just to sober up? 

Something hummed in Lei Jue’s mind and he stretched out his hands, intending to stop Xiao Lingyu’s next actions.

But when his hands reached above Xiao Lingyu’s back, he suddenly stopped.

Xiao Lingyu’s words from before repeated themselves in his head—don’t say anything, and don’t ask.

And so, in the end, his hands landed on Xiao Lingyu’s head, softly stroking it.

As if encouraged, Xiao Lingyu continued his gentle touches downward, then slowly removed Lei Jue’s pants.

The night had never seemed so quiet before; it was so quiet that the only sound left was that of their breathing.

Ten minutes or so later, Lei Jue, still nude, turned around and hugged Xiao Lingyu. 

It had always been Xiao Lingyu who was positioned a little higher, embracing him. This time, however, Lei Jue was the one half-leaning against the headboard with his arms around Xiao Lingyu’s head.

Neither of them spoke.

Lei Jue stroked Xiao Kingyu’s hair over and over again. He wanted to tell him to not do this next time, to not use drugs to prevent himself from getting excited, that it wasn’t good for his body. 

But when the words arrived at his lips, he couldn’t say a single one of them. It was like they were stuck in his throat.

It hurt.

He had never felt so much pain as he did now.

The two held each other tightly, falling asleep at some point.

In the moment that they hugged each other, however, within the box Xiao Zhicheng had gifted Lei Jue, the pearl-like seed suddenly broke its shell…

 

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