Zhong Yan woke up groggily and opened his eyes to see the unfamiliar ceiling. For a while, he was dazed, but he quickly remembered his current situation after a few seconds.
The blanket slid down his body as he sat up. His head felt heavy but his legs were numb, and his whole body felt hot, but he did not seem to have developed any other symptoms. Perhaps the medicine he took last night was effective? Thinking about it, Zhong Yan was quite surprised. When Adrian comes back tonight, he definitely had to ask what medicine it was he took.
Frankly…Zhong Yan could vaguely feel that he had been woken up once in the morning and was given another dosage of medicine. Someone had held him gently in their arms, but he was so tired he could not open his eyes, so that person had to feed him the medicine. Then, the person fed him some liquid food before wrapping him up in his embrace once more, allowing him to sleep.
…How could he have such an unrealistic dream? Zhong Yan laughed bitterly to himself. He really was possessed.
The sky was very bright at this moment, it seemed to be noon. He touched his wrist habitually—it was bare.
Right, he took off his terminal at the pond before getting into the water yesterday.
Zhong Yan immediately prepared to head over to get it, but just as he got off the bed, someone opened the door.
“What are you getting up for?” Adrian came in with a meal tray. “Lay back down.”
Zhong Yan asked in amazement, “Are…are you not going to headquarters today?”
“Who knows what else you’re gonna do if I go? I’m worried I’d find you tearing down my house when I come back.” Though he said so, no hint of anger could be heard from his tone.
Zhong Yan was dumbfounded as he looked at him, and was deeply suspicious of whether his mind had shorted out from the fever. However, he could not resist the temptation of this fantasy, and carefully asked, “Did you feed me this morning?”
“There’s only two people in this house. If not me, who else did you think it was? A cleaning robot?” Adrian put the tray down on his pillow. Before Zhong Yan mentioned it, he had not realized it, but now he did. He was furious when he asked, “Why didn’t you eat the dinner I ordered yesterday?”
After finding out about that matter yesterday, his stomach was churning. How could he have any appetite left to eat? Zhong Yan dropped his head and apologized, “Sorry, I won’t do it again.”
There it was again. Adrian could feel his throat clogging up with anger as he looked at him irritably. Since yesterday, it was as if this person would comply and apologize for all the accusations he had against him, and he did not know why, but Adrian would rather have him argue back to him.
He skipped the matter and asked, “What were you trying to do?”
“My terminal, I left it at the edge of the pond yesterday.”
“I’ll get it. Eat your lunch first.”
Zhong Yan’s heart jumped, and he quietly said, “No need, I still have to get out to shower anyway. I can go myself…”
“Don’t talk nonsense,” said Adrian. “You go shower, and I’ll get your terminal.”
“No, I really don’t want to trouble you. You don’t know where I put it.”
“You can just tell me where you left it.” Adrian observed his seemingly normal expression with suspicion. “What’re you so nervous for? It’s not like I know the password to your terminal.”
It seemed like Adrian was determined not to let him out into the backyard. Zhong Yan confessed, “I’m not nervous…I left them next to my shoes.”
That thing was so small, Adrian probably would not notice…right?
Contrary to Zhong Yan’s silent prayers, Adrian saw the two small shining little objects right beside the mass-produced wristband terminal at a glance.
Adrian picked them up in confusion, and only realized upon closer inspection that they were a pair of cufflinks.
A pair of clear, silver, square-shaped crystal cufflinks.
Right…that old woman gave Zhong Yan a pair of cufflinks in White Aegis. He knew that, but he never paid attention to it. He had taken a glance of that small stall at the time. They were all hand-made accessories made of artificial crystals with many cufflinks among them. At that time, he had thought it was Zhong Yan’s handsome appearance that had garnered the fancy of the old woman, so she had given him a small gift.
Many years ago, Zhong Yan had once given him a tie clip embedded with white crystals. With much regret, he told him he could not find any silver crystals, so he could only buy a white one.
“How could there be any natural silver crystals?” Adrian chuffed at the time.
“There weren’t any artificial ones either. I saw one of them labeled silver, but it looked gray and dull,” said Zhong Yan, upset. “How could they call that silver? That’s gray. Silver should be translucent, not dull, like your eyes.”
Zhong Yan had always been obsessed with finding accessories that matched Adrian’s irises, but the Institution Star’s shops were limited after all. Even when they graduated, Zhong Yan still could not find the perfect silver he had in mind.
He never thought that after so many years have passed, he would finally find the one thing he had always been dreaming of but could never find in little stall on a small remote planet like that; They were silver crystals that were in the same exact shade as Adrian’s eyes.
Adrian was still as he stared at the cufflinks in his hand for a few seconds. Then, he gathered his fingers and held them tightly in the palm of his hands, completely disregarding whether the corners dug into his palm or not.
Zhong Yan washed himself up absentmindedly and happened to see Adrian who had retrieved his shoes and terminal from the backyard just as he left the bathroom.
“Have you eaten lunch?” Zhong Yan took the terminal and put it on. As he did, he observed Adrian’s expression with a guilty conscience.
“I just ate,” said Adrian with his usual expression.
Zhong Yan secretly breathed a sigh of relief; but then he heard him say, “I’ll accept the cufflinks.”
“I…” Zhong Yan’s face was flushed red in an instant from embarrassment. This gift was worth so little he could not bring himself to give it to him, so he was going to keep it himself as a memento; he never thought it would be discovered. On the other hand, he was anxious that Adrian would really put cheap stall goods like that on and lose face. He quickly said, “It’s not worth much, don’t wear it, people will laugh at you if they see it.”
“We’ll see if there’s a single person in the entire Federation who dares to laugh at me,” Adrian spoke understatedly, “I’ll make sure to fix him up so he’ll never be able to laugh for the rest of his life.”
Zhong Yan wanted to urge him again, but the doorbell rang.
It was Wei Lan. Adrian opened the door with his authorization, and suddenly remembered what he had told him to do. He was just about to drive Zhong Yan back into his room, but it was too late.
As soon as Wei Lan entered the door, Zhong Yan’s sharp eyes caught onto that small little cake box in his hands.
“Medical Officer, you shouldn’t have,” Adrian quickly put in the first word. “You didn’t have to bring gifts, how kind of you, just leave it on the table. The patient is right—”
If Fayn was here, he would have been able to understand what he meant at hello, and cooperated with him in the play.
Unfortunately, this is Wei Lan.
Not only did the medical officer have no care for gossip, everything he knew about the pair was limited to the headlines in the news; moreover, he never knew how to read the atmosphere.
“Didn’t you tell me to bring it?” He asked with great doubt. “You even told me the sweeter the better. Did you forget?”
Adrian: “…” Damn me then.
When he saw him remain silent, Wei Lan seemed to have figured something out and said vigilantly, “This ‘Winter Special Sweethearts Exclusive Heart-shaped Chocolate Cake, Small” is very expensive. You’re not going to make me pay for it, are you? This isn’t a gift, it was clearly you who…”
“I’ll transfer it to you right now!” said Adrian with a hand on his forehead. He kept reminding himself, this was a medical officer, he needed him to save lives, he could not hit him.
Zhong Yan seemed calm on the surface, but his eyes were brighter than usual. Adrian met those eyes of his which joy could not be concealed, and said with unease, “This cake is…in exchange for your cufflinks. Now we’re even.”
However, it was obvious that he had only discovered the cufflinks a few minutes ago, but Zhong Yan was tactful and did not say anything about it. With great anticipation, he asked, “So, can I have it right now?”
Adrian firmly refused him. “No, eat it after lunch.”
After being forced to eat every single thing on his tray, Zhong Yan was completely unable to eat the cake.
He looked resentfully at the heart-shaped chocolate cake with its seductive luster that was put into the refrigerator by Adrian. He could only comfort himself by telling himself that it would taste even better chilled. With much reluctance, he left cooperatively with Wei Lan to do his physical examination.
“This situation is not too good indeed,” said Wei Lan while he flipped through the diagnostic records. “A typical case of malnutrition, low immunity, and many suboptimal health indications. According to the patient’s description of drug use history, it is clear that his body shows resistance to conventional drugs, and only shows improvements from the use of drugs with greater potency. But such drugs are harmful to the body, it will come back around in a vicious cycle. In the long run, I suggest starting today that you should stop using these drugs, including this time, even if it will take longer to recover.”
Adrian frowned when he heard that. He asked, “Are there any other ways to improve the situation?”
They were talking in the living room, and Zhong Yan wanted to hear the diagnosis, but Adrian forbade him from leaving the bedroom. Since yesterday, Zhong Yan had been surprisingly obedient. Since Adrian asked, he stayed obediently in the room and did not come out.
Wei Lan said, “These problems have been building up for many years, it cannot be improved in just a short while. He will need long-term supplements, gradual increase of physical exercise, and proper rest. Keep it up for a year or two, and you may start to see results.”
Of the three suggestions, Zhong Yan could not do a single one.
Adrian asked with a headache, “What will happen if we let this continue? Will the impact be big?”
“What sort of impact? If you have a strong enough mind and can ignore the occasional fever and cold, along with some good luck on not catching any major illnesses, it will not have many impacts on normal life.” Wei Lan continued, “But definitely, he will not live long. The average life expectancy of human beings now is around a hundred years old or so, but that is basically impossible to achieve with his physical condition.”
When he asserted that the other would “not live long”, it was no different from his usual tone. There was not even the slightest hint of fluctuations in his mood, as if he were only diagnosing an ordinary flesh wound.
Adrian looked at him silently for a while, and could not help himself from asking, “Doctor…actually, many soldiers have told me that you were too blunt, but I’m glad that was within the army, everyone there had the right psychological quality to take it. Anyway, can you be a little more mindful when speaking about such damning things?”
Wei Lan revealed a look of uncertainty for the first time in a while, and asked, “Am I? I, too, always get the feeling that some of their faces would twist occasionally when I was done speaking, but Adjutant Suster said nobody had any comments about me.”
Adrian rubbed his face and decided he would have to have a good talking to with his adjutant. One should show grace to the man who saved your life, but if this goes on, someone will end the medical officer one of these days.
“Let’s wrap it up for today, I won’t be seeing you out, so I’ll be troubling you.” Adrian saw him out the door. He seemed to have thought of something, and asked, “Doctor, are you returning to headquarters now?”
Wei Lan gave him an affirmative. Adrian said, “Great. When you go for dinner at the dining hall, tell them it’s an order from me. Don’t give cakes such terrible names in the future!”