No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 23: Slow Down
By the time Zhong Yan realized he had been kidnapped, it was already too late.
“This isn’t what we agreed!” It took Zhong Yan a lot of effort to follow Adrian down the warship’s corridor. “Slow down, I can’t keep up!”
Adrian turned a deaf ear to his last sentence and did not slow down in the slightest. Without any hesitation at all, he said, “I have no disagreements whatsoever with you. You asked to enter Navi, and I allowed it. You should be feeling grateful right now.”
“I came to seek a collaboration! Does the Navi Military Command treat their business partners like this? I…Slow down!”
Adrian could feel a force pulling him back. He lowered his head to look. Turns out Zhong Yan was pulling onto the hem of his t-shirt.
“I can’t walk anymore.”
Adrian thought he was just complaining for the sake of it, but when he turned around, he could see that Zhong Yan was actually panting lightly as if he had just exercised excessively.
Zhong Yan’s physical condition had been very poor since he was still in school, and he kept having menial issues like headaches and fevers during that time. During their second year, Adrian forced him to take morning runs for some time, but school work became more and more arduous for him. Zhong Yan still had to deal with his work as the Student Council President, so he would often go to sleep only when the early hours of morning came. It was better for him to sleep a little longer, so Adrian could not bear to wake him up an hour earlier. Thus, his morning runs could only be left aside.
But during the month when he ran with him, Adrian could fully understand how bad the other person’s physical condition really was. The standard track was only 400 meters, and most people would often be able to run ten laps within half an hour during their warmup morning run. After they were done, they could still chat and laugh, but Zhong Yan’s face started to pale after completing only a single round, gasping to the point where he could not even speak; even when severely dehydrated, Adrian would still be able to survive doing two laps in a row. Then, he would not be able to move a single limb at all.
“Even if you can’t run, you can’t just sit around.” Adrian pulled him up halfway from the ground. “Get up and walk for a little. Xiao Yan. Come on, you can do it.”
Zhong Yan’s face was as pale as a ghost, and he was leaning on his body without a single drop of energy left in him. Through his violent gasps, he could only barely make out, “No…can’t…I can’t move…give me…a break…”
“I’m holding you, come on, just walk for a bit. You’re really too…you only jogged for two rounds, if someone didn’t know, they might even think you just finished a 10K timed run!”
Zhong Yan grabbed his own chest and felt so tired that he barely wanted to talk at all. Adrian allowed him to prop an arm over his neck while he took his waist to support his weight.
The two walked a small half lap around the outer ring of the field. Zhong Yan finally managed to catch his breath and softly began, “Adrian…can I run only half a lap tomorrow?”
His sweaty body was sticking to Adrian’s, but neither of the two had any intentions of changing their posture.
“Half a lap? Don’t be like that, just the distance between our room to the canteen alone is much further than half a lap. Even if you don’t feel embarrassed running that little, I’d be too embarrassed to join you.”
“Two laps is too much.” Zhong Yan complained quietly, appearing very wronged. “You have to let me adapt…I really can’t run anymore…if not, running slower is also…”
When he spoke, Adrian suddenly tightened his hold on his waist and blocked him with a turn of his body.
“Fellow senior sisters,” Adrian winked at the two girls who were passing by, “could you please not record us? My honey’s a bit on the shy side.”
One of the girls blushed instantly, and could not muster any words as she watched his mirthful silver eyes. But the other girl was much more carefree, and openly raised her hand to fiddle with her terminal. She said, “Since you’ve said so, I’ll delete it.”
“Thank you, senior sister. What’s your name? We can go for lunch later.”
“No, no need.” The two girls could recognize that he had only been saying these words out of courtesy, and quickly refuse him before leaving tactfully.
“It’s okay now, they left.” Adrian was amused. “Are you trying to strangle me to death?”
Only then did Zhong Yan realize how nervous he was. He had subconsciously tightened his arm around the other person’s neck. He quickly let him go and took a step back. After steadying himself, he dropped his head and said, “I’m not gonna run tomorrow…who knows how many people will be filming.”
Adrian knew that he valued his image very much, and refused to show weakness in front of everyone; he definitely did not want any recordings or photos of him during his embarrassing state of being like wet rags fished out of a pond and circulated around the school forums for people to comment on.
Adrian looked at Zhong Yan. His sweaty black hair was sticking lightly to his forehead, the contrast making his skin appear excessively pale. His sweat dripped down from the tips of his hair and rolled down his handsome face, gliding over his clavicle that was still faintly rising and falling from his gasps, slipping beneath his collar.
For the first time, he had the same idea as Zhong Yan; indeed, this appearance was…better off hidden from the others.
“Ade?” Zhong Yan’s chest constricted when he saw the unhappy expression on his face. Adrian sacrificed his own time to run with him in the mornings, and he was still grumbling and complaining…
“I…I think I feel better now after some rest, I’ll do two laps tomorrow, okay?”
“Huh?” Adrian came back to his senses. “Oh, really? That’s great. Let’s run around the art campus’ field tomorrow. There’s a lot of people around your campus.”
“Okay. I made eel with rice for lunch today, I’ll pack it up for you later so you can take it with you…”
Seeing that familiar smile returning to his lips once more, the unease in Zhong Yan’s heart was finally set down.
He had to stop being needy and ungrateful in the future, or so Zhong Yan warned himself. He had to go with Adrian’s every word; if he told him to run, then he had to run, so what if it was a little tiring? Adrian had now entered the School of Military Affairs, he will have many new friends; what would he do if he decided to move in with Fayn Suster instead if he ever made him unhappy?
“We barely even walked, have you really been sitting in your office for seven years?” Adrian tried to pull the hem of his t-shirt back. “Don’t pull on my clothes!”
Zhong Yan tightened his grip on his clothes even more, refusing to let go. He fumed, “I kept telling you to slow down but you didn’t! I wouldn’t be this out of breath if we walked slower! You’ve been like this since long ago. I’ve been keeping it in for many years. I told you I can’t run anymore, but you kept telling me to run! Do you think everyone has a perfectly arranged exercising schedule like you from a young age? I’ve ran more that month than I’ve ever walked in my entire life!”
Adrian looked incredulously at him. “That’s eight years ago, why are you bringing that up now? What’s more, what’s wrong with that? You can’t deny it, your physical condition improved during the latter half of that year!”
“No! I caught a cold that month as well, but you just didn’t realize it.”
“You didn’t even tell me and now it’s my fault? I was practically keeling over with work and I still had to wake up early every morning to run with you. Thinking about it now, I might as well have fed my time to the dogs instead! I told you to let go of my shirt, stop pulling it!”
Two patrolmen who were passing by were stunned to see their commander raising hell with the councilman-who-must-not-be-named. Right when the two were hesitating over whether they should be changing their patrol route, the conflict between the two men escalated. Hands were raised, and they watched as his commander wrestled with the man’s hands, but the other would not let go no matter what. Not only that, he even started grabbing onto Adrian’s clothes with his free hand.
“Are… are they going to fight? Should we go and help?” One of the patrolling guards asked.
“Help with what?” asked the other. “When has our commander ever needed help in a scuffle? Isn’t he always the one taking on a group of people by himself?”
The two patrolmen watched for a while, but Adrian did not lay waste to the other man as quickly as they expected. The two continued to struggle with each other for a few minutes, and their quarrel had not stopped during it, but Adrian still was not able to retrieve his clothes from the other man’s grasp.
“What’s the commander doing?” asked one of the patrolling guards to his companion. “Isn’t it easier if he just breaks his wrists? How can he not pull him off?”
“Yeah, that what’s his name’s wrists are so thin, the commander could pull it off in one tug.”
“Maybe he’s worried about the consequences? Isn’t that guy a special commissioner this time? It’s gonna be trouble if he gets broken bones in our warship.”
The two were stuck in the middle of their patrol route, and the two could not figure out whether they should continue going or not. So, they whispered amongst themselves for a while, and finally caught Zhong Yan’s attraction.
Zhong Yan paused in his actions, and quickly let go before whispering, “Someone’s here.”
Since his clothes had been pulled by Adrian during their struggle, his overly large jacket was now slanted over to the side, revealing a small area of his smooth left shoulder. Adrian subconsciously cut in between him and the patrolmen, blocking the view from the two with his body.
“Enjoyed the show? Don’t the two of you have patrol?” asked Adrian.
His eyes were extremely cold, and when the two guards saw them, they felt a chill run down their bodies. They quickly declared that they had not seen anything, and hurriedly sped up their steps to continue their patrol without allowing their gaze to stray.
“You’re pretty good at being a menace, aren’t you?” Adrian reached out to pull his collar straight before he mocked, “Must’ve been real tiring to put up a show all this while huh?”
“I didn’t…” said Zhong Yan through gritted teeth. But thinking about it again, there was no merit in explaining; Adrian was now fully confident that he had been deliberately deceiving him all those years, and he would never believe him no matter how he denied it. He put down this potentially hazardous topic and said, “Forget it…it’s nothing. I’m getting hungry, weren’t we going to the canteen?”
Adrian responded in a huff. “So you’ve got the balls to mention that huh? If you hadn’t started kicking up a fuss, I would’ve finished eating by now.”
“Then walk slower.”
Adrian snorted before turning to leave. Even though he did not verbally agree to it, his pace had clearly slowed down.
This was all for the sake of his image in the eyes of his subordinates, thought Adrian. If he was caught arguing with Zhong Yan again, the one losing face would be him. What’s more, there was important news he wanted right now from Zhong Yan.
The waist and hem area of his clothes were wrinkled from their earlier tug of war, so it looked very awkward. Zhong Yan was following behind him and frowned as he stared at the wrinkles.
It was just in time for lunch, so there should be many people at the canteen. This entire ship was under Adrian’s command, so Adrian should be maintaining the image of his status, but if his clothes were so messy…
Zhong Yan hesitated over and over again, but still reached out to straighten the back of his clothes before they reached the canteen.
Adrian turned back to look at him and did not put it to heart. Casually, he commented, “People with OCD sure are riddled with problems”