Quality Check: Isalee
First Published on Chaleuria
Torrential rain cascaded down the window panes. Twisting his body, Fang Chi struggled with great effort to unfasten the seat belt. Gao Zhun, crushed against his seat by the other man, hummed and moaned without rest. All was dark beyond the windows; the world outside was black as ink. Deafening thunder chased after the most blinding lightning, and a sudden white streak struck down from the sky.
Gao Zhun’s mouth was wide open, allowing Fang Chi to lick over and over every inch of its moistened warmth. Spit trailed down Gao Zhun’s chin, and the wet sounds of suckling lips filled his ears. After worrying at Gao Zhun’s upper lip for a long while with his teeth and tongue, Fang Chi let go of the soft flesh at last. Panting heavily, he released the other man, straightened his own askew glasses, and propped himself up in an unnatural manner. It was as if he did not quite dare to look at the man below him. “Alright, go up now.”
Glazed eyes fluttered open. Ravaged, swollen lips took on the crimson hue of blood. “No…” Murmuring, his voice hoarse with emotion, Gao Zhun pressed his forehead to Fang Chi’s chest. “Please, I beg you, take me back.”
Fang Chi frowned in agitation. Perhaps feeling somewhat suffocated, he loosened his tie with a tug. “Be good. Linlin will be reaching soon.”
“I don’t want to see her. I…” Fang Chi kissed him again, so urgent and insatiable that he swallowed all of Gao Zhun’s words, down to the very last syllable. It was sheer brutality, as if he were trying in earnest to tear the other man apart. Gao Zhun’s entire body quaked in Fang Chi’s hold, neither able to give in to its desires nor escape from the confines of the man’s arms; so powerless was Gao Zhun, even the simplest act of breathing was almost too much to ask for.
“D-Doc… mngh…” Gao Zhun struggled slightly. Fang Chi unclasped the man’s seat belt, folded him to his chest, and began bucking against the helpless body as if they were making love. Gao Zhun, beside himself with excitement, flexed his pliant waist in response, looking ready to combust with desire at any moment. “Take me back with you. I’ll do anything you want…”
Yet, after all the savoring and humping, Fang Chi released the man once more. For several moments, he remained transfixed by the sight of Gao Zhun biting his lips and writhing in feverish distress. Then, without any warning, Fang Chi opened the door by the front seat. Wind and rain poured into the car, crashed onto Gao Zhun’s face and shocked him out of his daze.
“Get out,” Fang Chi ordered, his resolve steeled.
“No…” Gao Zhun tried to curl up against the back of his seat, but Fang Chi stopped him with a yank and pushed him out of the car with a cruel shove. One leg slipped into the rain. Clinging stubbornly to Fang Chi’s arm, Gao Zhun started to cry. All of a sudden, Fang Chi remembered that the man’s belongings were still in the trunk. Somewhat piqued, he flung aside that pair of desperate hands and went to unload the luggage in the violent downpour.
Panic swelled within Gao Zhun as his frantic eyes chased after the other man’s retreating figure. The trunk was opened and shut again. Soaked to his skin, Fang Chi made his way around the vehicle, luggage in hand. Gao Zhun watched the man carry those bags into the apartment building, his heart sinking with the knowledge that Fang Chi would be coming for him next. He tangled his fingers together, shivering all over, and set his unblinking stare on the entrance of the apartment.
The doors opened a moment later. Fang Chi came out of the building and strode straight towards Gao Zhun. “N-no!” he pleaded helplessly, hanging on to the steering wheel with every last bit of his strength. “I don’t like you anymore! I hate you now, okay? Isn’t that good enough for you?!” Rolling over between Fang Chi’s arms, Gao Zhun swatted the man’s glasses away with a swipe of his hand. Fang Chi remained undeterred. He continued manhandling Gao Zhun without a care for his spectacles, hauling him out of the car and half-carrying him into the building.
Gao Zhun could not open his eyes in the rain; all he could feel was the world spinning around him. By the time he got up from the floor and dashed out of the apartment building once more, Fang Chi had already started his car. The man’s glasses were still lying on the ground. Gao Zhun stepped over them and ran after the vehicle, yelling himself hoarse in the unrelenting storm. But Fang Chi heard nothing. He could only look into the rearview mirror and watch Gao Zhun’s sorry figure recede further and further into the watery distance as he turned on the radio. Fang Chi’s heart was hurting – it hurt so much, as if it was on the verge of bursting – and he kept one hand on the steering wheel while he pressed the other to his chest. If he had never received any professional training, he knew, he would have turned back right this minute and rushed back to the other man’s side.
Fang Chi made it to his apartment in the end. Drenched to his bones, he drifted into the elevator like a lost soul, his nose stinging with the urge to break down and cry. He hugged his head in despair, unable to hold up anymore, looking the very image of a madman adrift in the world with no place to call his own.
Chills ran over his skin. Pain burned along his throat. Shuddering, Fang Chi awoke with a start and glanced at his watch. It was already half past midnight. He had caught a cold, he realized. Yet, even before he could think of finding medication for himself, he grabbed his phone and looked up Gao Zhun’s contact details. After the slightest bit of hesitation, he dialed the number. He did not think his call would ever be answered – he had hurt the man, and Gao Zhun should hate him to the core now – but the call went through after mere seconds. All was quiet on the other end of the line apart from the sound of heavy, difficult breathing. “Gao Zhun!” he yelled.
“… Why are you calling again?” Gao Zhun’s voice was terrible beyond belief; he must have fallen sick as well.
“You caught a cold? How are you feeling?”
“A little feverish…” Gao Zhun rasped weakly with child-like coyness, “Won’t you come and pick me up, please?”
Fang Chi’s heart was in agony once more. Forcing himself to endure the anguish, he replied instead, “Where’s Linlin? She’s around, isn’t she? Ask her to take you to the hospital!”
“No one’s here.” Gao Zhun sounded as if he had begun to weep. “I miss you…”
“It’s alright, don’t be scared,” Fang Chi coaxed in a soft, gentle voice. “Sleep first. I’ll be there when you wake up.” After hanging up, he made a second call to Zuo Linlin, which went through just as quickly as the first. “Where in the world are you?!” he shouted as soon as she picked up.
“In the cab.” Zuo Linlin’s tone was somewhat sullen, a telling sign of her displeasure towards his angry outburst. “My flight was delayed.”
Feeling that his attitude was indeed inappropriate, Fang Chi reined in his temper. “Gao Zhun’s running a fever. You should hurry back and take him…”
“Oh,” Zuo Linlin cut in, “aren’t you two chummy with each other!” She, too, lost control of her emotions. “Let me tell you something – he’s the one I dumped you for, all those years ago. Get your head straight!”
Fang Chi choked, rendered speechless by her reply, and hung up after forcing out a final line, “Just go back as soon as possible, will you?!”
Morning came around. It was Saturday, and there were no patients awaiting the therapist. Fang Chi was restless and at a loss for what to do. Images of Gao Zhun filled his mind; he could not stop thinking about the man no matter what he did. He made it to the afternoon with great effort before wasting the rest of the day away in the cinema. Movie after movie, the hours passed in a daze. At eleven in the night, he dragged his groggy self out of the theater and headed home to shower and sleep.
Yet, despite how drowsy he was, Fang Chi could not stop tossing and turning in bed. He remained wide awake, staring into the darkness until one in the morning. At last, unable to bear it any longer, he got up and dialed the number to Gao Zhun’s home. The line went dead after several rings. He called again. This time, Zuo Linlin picked up the phone just was it was about to stop ringing. “Yeah?” Her brusqueness made it clear that she had been sound asleep before she was roused by the call. “Who is this?!”
“It’s me,” Fang Chi replied, somewhat deferent in his manner. “Well, um, how is he?”
Recognizing his voice, Zuo Linlin’s attitude improved a little. “Oh, him. Still sleeping. Feeling better, I guess.”
The casualness of her tone infuriated Fang Chi. His temper flared. “You didn’t send him to the hospital?!”
“He was the one who didn’t want to go!” Zuo Linlin raised her voice in response. “Wouldn’t even let me into his room, in fact. He said he was going to break up with me!”
Every word was a stab into the core of Fang Chi’s being, and his heart was close to shattering. “He’s down with a fever!” Emotion spiraling out of control, he roared in distress until his voice cracked. “He’s been burning for at least a day and a night, from yesterday till now!”
“Are you blaming me?” Zuo Linlin’s voice chilled. “I’ve been away for so long. I just got off my flight last midnight, and you don’t even have a single word of concern for me?” She wanted to say something scathing, something to put him in his place. “Listen here, Fang Chi…” But the man hung up on her instead. She glared at the receiver in disbelief, unable to comprehend what had just happened. Fang Chi had never treated her like this before, not even when she broke up with him three years ago. Wanting to reason things out with him, Zuo Linlin dialed back at once – only to have her call ignored by the man on the other end. After screaming into the receiver for several hysterical moments, she stomped back to her room in a fit of pique.
Twenty minutes later – or thirty at most – someone started banging on the door. Pulling her hair in frustration, Zuo Linlin crawled out of bed for the second time this night and made her way through the apartment in the dark. When she looked through the peephole and saw Fang Chi, however, her temper surged back to life. In a single breath, she undid the three locks on the door and shoved it open. She was prepared to give the man a piece of her mind, but Fang Chi brushed right past her without sparing a sideways glance; he made a beeline for Gao Zhun’s room, tripping and stumbling as he passed through the lightless living room.
“Have you lost your mind, Fang Chi?!” Zuo Linlin trailed behind the man in bewilderment, unable make heads or tails of the situation at hand. Fang Chi seemed to have become a different person altogether. She knew nothing of this man who would come in the middle of the night for such a confrontation. “If this is your way of making your presence felt, choose a better time and do it during the day instead!”
Yet, such words meant nothing to Fang Chi; Zuo Linlin did not exist in his world right now. As soon as he opened Gao Zhun’s door and flicked on the light, he was devoured by the maddened rush of an all-consuming torrent. Was it love? Or was it hate? He staggered from the onslaught; there was no escape for him. “Gao Zhun?” he called out. The other man remained unmoving in bed, his bloodless lips striking a stark contrast against the deep flush on his cheeks. His body, tightly wrapped under the thin layers of his covers, lay in a helpless bundle on the mattress. Trembling, Fang Chi lurched forward on weakened legs. Any moment now, it seemed, he would collapse and fall upon his knees.
Noticing the oddness in Fang Chi’s movements, Zuo Linlin tried to hold him up out of goodwill. “What are you getting worked up for? He’s just…”
“Get away from me!” Fang Chi shoved her aside, hard. With a loud thump, the woman rammed into the wall corner cabinet and slid onto the floor, splaying her thighs in a most humiliating manner. Zuo Linlin’s eyes reddened. She glared upwards at Fang Chi, expecting to see some display of remorse or horror at what he had done – but all she saw was him patting Gao Zhun’s cheeks with a cautious touch before hefting the bundled man into his arms, along with his covers. So large was the blanket that it took Fang Chi several attempts before he managed, somewhat, to catch all the fabric with his hands.
“What are you doing…?” Zuo Linlin stared blankly at him, her rage forgotten. Fang Chi turned, making it clear that he was going to take Gao Zhun away. As he passed before her, Zuo Linlin grabbed the hem of his trousers. “Where are you taking him?!” Lost in desire, delirious with manic obsession, Fang Chi yanked his leg from her fingers and strode out of the room. Upon reaching the half-shut entrance, he mustered all his strength and struck the door with a violent kick. Deafening noise reverberated through the apartment, much like the sound made by broken metal or deformed steel, and Zuo Linlin covered her ears in fright. Forgetting to even get up from the floor, she watched in shock as Fang Chi disappeared from sight.