Edited by Beth
The bathroom descended into silence, and an inexplicable stifling sensation gradually arose with the steam.
Si Nan was seated in the bathtub, the warm water lapping at his waist. Due to how flat his stomach was, faint mermaid lines on his abdomen could be seen, and his upper body was slightly hunched over. His wet hair clung to his temples, and his eyes were slightly narrowed. From his lower position, he looked up at Zhou Rong, and because of this, the corners of his eyes seemed extra sharp.
Zhou Rong recognised this stance, and it had two meanings to it:
Due to being naked, the Omega was hunching forward because of shyness;
Or the soldier’s body was tense, preparing to go on the offensive at any moment.
According to his understanding of how Si Nan normally acted, it should be the latter.
Zhou Rong said sincerely, “If I say to you that I’m only helping to bathe you, would you believe it?”
After a long bout of silence, Si Nan said slowly, “Out of courtesy, I’ll believe it.”
“Then, do you want to bathe together now, or…?”
Of course, yes!
Like a boiling dumpling, a roar bubbled up within Zhou Rong’s mouth a few times, before he finally managed to swallow it back down with great difficulty. He retreated outside the door, saying politely, “No, when you’re done, just call me.” He then gently shut the door.
Si Nan maintained that taut position, slowly leaning back into the bathtub as the sounds of water splashing could be heard.
His body was submerged in the hot water, the heat slowly seeping into his cold, hard and aching muscles, melting them, sending tingles through his nerves and bones. His entire body softened, and during the moment he regained consciousness, he felt something very mysterious within him… something that he had never experienced before in his life, but vaguely, innately, he knew what it was.
However, before he had time to think about it carefully, Zhou Rong had opened the door and entered, interrupting his thoughts. The Alpha pheromones wafting towards him instantly aggravated this change.
When Zhou Rong opened his mouth, listening to his voice, Si Nan could even feel a certain part within his body suddenly become less tight.
— this was not good.
Si Nan shut his eyes, his back leaning on the cooling porcelain. In his mind, he swiftly tidied up the scattered memories of the past few days. By using the power of reasoning, he suppressed the peculiar feeling of his insides softening and becoming slick. Still, it was not very effective.
In the rising fog, deep within his body, there seemed to be warm water slowly seeping through, feeling as though it was filling up his body, and almost about to spill out. As Si Nan tried to recall what Romuller and his group of idiots were trying to interrogate out of him, what constantly came to mind was surprisingly not the pain of getting electrocuted, but Zhou Rong’s strong and powerful arms, as well as that little triangular piece of tanned skin that could be seen at his collar.
The corners of Si Nan’s mouth twitched. He dared not continue staying in the warm water. With water splashing everywhere, he stood, and roughly wiped his body dry.
Zhou Rong had folded the clean clothes neatly and placed them on the shelf, like blocks of tofu. Si Nan changed into a clean shirt. Casually wiping the mirror, he saw how his face was flushed, and how limpid his eyes were.
Cooking congee in the kitchen, Zhou Rong lifted his head upon hearing the voice.
With his hands behind his back, Si Nan stood by the kitchen door. He stood tall and straight, his voice steady, and his expression calm. He looked just like a news broadcaster, but for some reason, the corners of his eyes seemed a little reddened.
Although he was no longer that little sluggish Si Nan burrito wrapped up in his blanket, this image of his was also very handsome and good looking; a kind of cleanliness that made people yearn for it.
In that instant, Zhou Rong felt a little ashamed for his despicable thoughts, and he gave a cough. Putting down the ladle, he smiled. “Then I’ll take a shower too. Watch over the congee, don’t let it burn. There’s salt and sugar on the shelf.”
Si Nan did not respond.
Zhou Rong walked out of the kitchen, brushing past Si Nan as he walked through the door. At that moment, he felt like Si Nan’s eyes had swiftly slid across his collar.
Zhou Rong, “…?”
Was he coveting my perfect figure, or did I just see wrongly?
While opening the bathroom door, Zhou Rong could not help but turn his head back, only to see Si Nan moving calmly and peacefully towards the stove. He ladled up some vegetable and meat congee, blowing across it with complete focus. In the steam, only his elegant chin could be seen clearly.
He must have seen incorrectly, Zhou Rong thought with no lack of regrets as he closed the bathroom door.
Having suppressed himself almost to the point of explosion, Zhou Rong supported himself against the door. All he could think about were indescribable R-rated images. In the bathroom, where the warm wet air was mingled with honey-scented pheromones, he brought himself to climax twice with his hands, and only then did his nerves, that had been pushed to their very limits, finally cool down.
Using cold water, he finished this combat shower of his, and walked out of the door in high spirits. Right then, he happened to see Si Nan standing in front of the stove, sneakily adding things into the congee.
“What happened?” Zhou Rong asked loudly. “The congee is already full of ingredients! Don’t add anymore canned food into it!”
Si Nan immediately turned around, hiding his hands behind his back. “Alright.” He then licked his lips clean.
Captain Zhou was entranced by his light pink lips, and did not raise enough of his vigilance at first sight.
Zhou Rong went to the car and rummaged through the boot, digging out a packet of cookies from a corner. Opening the packet, he fed it to Si Nan, taking advantage of the opportunity to examine the shape and shine of Comrade xiao-Si’s lips from a close distance. After that, he then mixed the dried onions and sauce from the individual combat rations and warmed up the mixture, before cooking it with the diced italian meatballs to be eaten together with the dried and hard pieces of bread.
Without anything to do, Si Nan walked around the kitchen aimlessly. Zhou Rong tossed him the car keys, instructing, “Go, go find something to drink in the car. See if there’s any beer.”
Si Nan followed his instructions. A moment later, he returned with a packet of instant powder drink. Pinching it between two fingers, he held it out to Zhou Rong.
An isotonic, high protein, high fibre beverage.
“… It’s better than nothing,” Zhou Rong consoled himself. He then eyed Si Nan. “Why is there only one? You don’t want any?”
Si Nan shook his head.
“It’s an auspicious day today, and it should be celebrated. How about having something to drink?”
Si Nan said, “No need, we’ll leave it all for you.”
The two people looked at each other for a long time. Zhou Rong’s eyes were very considerate, while Si Nan’s face was filled with innocence. In the kitchen, only the gurgling sound of congee cooking could be heard.
A moment later, Zhou Rong finally sighed, reaching out and wiping away the milk-white powder at the corners of Si Nan’s lips. “The milk powder is all yours, don’t hide away and eat it dry. Be good, bring it here and mix it with water before drinking.”
Si Nan, “… Oh.”
Si Nan continued loafing around, occasionally picking up a piece of bread, or Zhou Rong would feed him some meat sauce. When it was dinner time, he was nearly full.
Zhou Rong had set up a dining table by the window on the second floor. He pulled open the curtains, revealing a sky full of stars. On the table were two piping hot pots — a congee made with luncheon meat, dehydrated vegetables and rice, as well as an onion and meat sauce with pieces of bread soaking in it.
Each had a bowl and chopsticks. Zhou Rong had the high protein, high fibre drink, while Si Nan had the warm, sweet milk.
The two people clinked their glasses. Zhou Rong cleared his throat, speaking solemnly, “Today is a day worth commemorating. Our little fleeing 118 detachment force, after enduring four months of exile, has finally welcomed back an important time of family reunion, ushering out the old and in with the new — the new year.”
Expressionlessly, Si Nan applauded. Zhou Rong took a mouthful of his beverage.
“The first toast, the organisation wishes that in this new year, Comrade Si xiao-Nan will grow up healthily, peacefully and may happiness be with you always.”
Si Nan played along with him. “The same goes for Rong-ge.”
Zhou Rong patted his head, giving him a red packet — a small packet of raisins.
“The second toast, wishing that the currently absent members of Unit 118 Squad 6, Comrade Chuncao, Comrade Yan Hao, Comrade Ding Shi, as well as Comrade Guo Weixiang have already arrived at the Nanhai base, successfully completing the handover with the government. Also, here’s to the seventeen comrades-in-arms who have already left us to go to heaven; we wish that everything is fine, and that they will be successfully rebirthed… no, better wait for the apocalypse to be over before their rebirth.”
Zhou Rong drank another mouthful, reciting the seventeen names according to their order of sacrifice. The last name was Zhang Yingjie.
After reciting those names, he fell silent for a moment, and Si Nan quietly watched him.
“The third toast, wishing that the government would quickly develop an antivirus, and that humanity would soon be able to be free from the apocalypse, rebuild their homes, where peace and stability would return.”
Zhou Rong raised his glass to the glittering sky, and poured out his last mouthful onto the floor.
“Heaven and earth, and the spirits around, please bear witness to us ordinary folks, working to carry out the hopes of the race’s survival.”
There was no moon tonight. However, under the light of the countless stars, the mountains and rivers glowed with a faint, white light.
Zhou Rong turned towards Si Nan, giving him a small smile. “Go on, eat. Otherwise, the food will get cold. Have a taste of Rong-ge’s culinary skills.”
Si Nan nodded, reaching out to pick up a piece of bread soaked in the meat sauce.
Zhou Rong’s tastes catered more towards Chinese food, and so he picked up his bowl to scoop up the fragrant, thick meat and vegetable congee he had cooked for a few hours. In the end, the congee he ladled up was very watery, and when he inspected it closely, he realised that there were some pieces of meat and vegetables that had yet to be fully melded into the congee. It was obvious that they had just been added into the congee not too long ago.
“Si—xiao—Nan!” Zhou Rong immediately turned belligerent, speaking sternly, “How much did you secretly eat? Tell me!”
Si Nan, “…”
“You even know how to top it up after eating it secretly. You’re very resourceful, aren’t you?! If you’re that clever, don’t just add the canned ingredients, add some rice as well! With the current state of this congee, you thought I wouldn’t discover it, is that it?!”
Knowing perfectly well that what he had done had been exposed, Si Nan was silent for a moment, then threw his spoon onto the table. He continued with a successful counterattack by picking up that little packet of raisins. “Where’s my big red packet?”
“There’s no big red packet during the new year? Who are you trying to coax? So what if I had a few spoons of your congee? Didn’t you make it for me anyway?”
Choked by this ridiculous reasoning, Zhou Rong was speechless, and Si Nan’s next words were the last trigger to his surrender.
“Or did you make it for Yan Hao?”
“…” Zhou Rong said sincerely, “Comrade xiao-Si, I feel that if Yan Hao were to hear what you just said, he would vomit blood… you must never say this to his face.”
Eating the italian meatballs, Si Nan curled up one corner of his lips, his eyes brimming with joy and satisfaction.
The night of New Year’s eve, the unceasing northern wind blew across the woods. In the distance was an undissolvable, inky darkness, with zombies roaming and howling in the valleys, and the lonely yet bright stars silently watched over the land.
In this tiny piece of the universe, there was warm food, clean clothes, and a strong and dependable sense of security. Leaning back into the chair in a cross-legged position, with both his feet on the seat, Si Nan was completely content after a hot bath, and the desire to stretch lazily was imbued in him.
The anger, hatred and pain he experienced a few days ago at the hands of Romuller, as well as the pinprick of regret and hope he felt at that time deep inside him, seemed to have all become the memories of a previous lifetime. During that moment when Zhou Rong had appeared like a soldier from heaven, they had all vanished into thin air.
Si Nan squeezed along the edge of the table. Like a boneless cat, half his body weight leant upon Zhou Rong’s shoulder.
Zhou Rong’s voice was a little husky. “Little Comrade, let me tell you, this action of yours is considered sexual harassment.”
Si Nan replied lazily, “Sue me then, I’m sexually harassing an Alpha from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Quick, get the police to catch me.”
This position resulted in the two people almost plastered together. In an instant, the food in Zhou Rong’s mouth had turned bland, and what filled his nose was the scent of the Omega’s pheromones. It was like an invisible yet soft little hook, scratching and teasing the most sensitive part of his heart.
“Si Nan,” Zhou Rong said with difficulty after swallowing his congee.
“Your… inhibitor…” It seemed like Zhou Rong was a little embarrassed to say this aloud, “seems to have failed.”
While drinking his milk, Si Nan unconcernedly said, “How could that be? It was injected at the end of September, the effects should only wear off half a year later.”
Zhou Rong silently commented that his scent was already very obvious. Could it be that due to his multitudes of injuries, the inhibitor in his blood had been excreted ahead of time?
“How did you find me?” Without realising what he was doing, Si Nan nuzzled into Zhou Rong’s firm biceps as he asked casually.
Seduced by the pheromones to the point of distraction, Zhou Rong gave a simple narration of how he jumped from the helicopter, searching through the hinterland of zombies for forty-eight hours without any sleep or rest, even running to a tall building to light up a smoke signal, then finally meeting Abbas, the Alpha that was over two metres tall, and how he followed him until he found their temporary stronghold.
Si Nan said gloomily, “They’re from Country A’s White Eagle forces, and Romuller is their head. They have a secret military base in Florida specialising in all sorts of biochemistry research, and they might be directly related to the spread of the zombie virus.”
“Then why do they want to capture you?”
“… I’m not really sure.”
Zhou Rong bent his head down. Si Nan happened to lift his head at that moment, and their lips nearly brushed against each other’s.
Right then, Zhou Rong’s heart pounded restlessly, but Si Nan didn’t notice anything at all. “My head was a little injured. They gave me an overdose of some drug, making it difficult for me to recall some things…”
Zhou Rong opened his mouth, and he suddenly realised the source of why he was feeling at odds!
— Si Nan’s eyes were actually fixed right on his lips!
They were too close, and thus Zhou Rong could not see too clearly, but he was very certain that there was a sort of dazedness in Si Nan’s unblinking eyes. It could not be said that he was completely entranced, but he was also far from sober. If one had to put it into words, it seemed to be a sort of instinctive reaction.
“I think they asked me about some box,” Si Nan murmured as though he was sleep-talking, “and some scarf…”
Zhou Rong quietly reminded him, “Si xiao-Nan?”
Si Nan closed his eyes, opening them a moment later. Realising what he was doing, he sat upright in his chair. “What?”
— That extremely ambiguous atmosphere instantly shattered.
“What were we talking about just now?” Si Nan did not know that he had been staring the whole time at Zhou Rong’s lips. He said earnestly, “If I can remember, I will definitely tell you. Right now… my brain is a little confused, and I cannot remember any clues. The drug they injected me with might need a few days before it can be fully cleared from my body.”
Slightly regretful, Zhou Rong massaged Si Nan’s temples, smiling. “If you can’t remember, then don’t think about it anymore. Take it slow. Rong-ge believes in you.”
With that caress from Zhou Rong’s broad and warm hand, Si Nan again reacted oddly. He reflexively tilted his head back, looking just like a feline seeking a pleasing touch.
But that was only for an instant.
Si Nan seemed to have suddenly registered that there was something wrong with his actions. He stiffened, then grabbed a spoon and shoved some congee into his mouth.
Zhou Rong, “…”
“It’s delicious,” Si Nan said calmly, his every syllable filled with a rigid attempt at trying to conceal what he had done, only to make it more obvious.
“…” Zhou Rong warned him considerately, “Be careful of choking.”
Zhou Rong’s original plan was that since Si Nan was both in an unconscious and clingy state, he would just hug him to sleep in one bed. However, man plans but god decides, and Si Nan had woken halfway through his bath. Their sleeping arrangement for that night had become something very awkward.
“You’ve yet to recover, you can take the bed.” Huffing and puffing, Zhou Rong dragged a couch over from the house next door. Dusting his hands, he said, “I’ll just sleep on the couch. We’ll sleep in the same house, it’s more convenient to give a warning if something happens at night.”
Leaning against the headboard, Si Nan opened an eye. He watched Zhou Rong busying around. That shapely and firm figure seemed to have some sort of magnetic ability, causing him to be unable to drag his eyes away in his drowsiness.
Without any hindrance, Alpha pheromones filled his nose and the air. However, Si Nan started to feel that this scent was very pleasant. Like a warm and thick cloud, it enveloped his body, and he felt so comfortable that he started to become limp.
Lying on the pillow, Si Nan shut his eyes.
The last image he saw right before he slept was Zhou Rong lying on the couch opposite him. In the dark, his eyes were bright and shiny, and he was gazing at the bed. The Alpha seemed to want to do something, but after flipping himself over, in the end, he did nothing.
What did he not do?
… A good night kiss that had been given very regularly over the past few days seemed to be missing.
Si Nan huffed out a breath, his thoughts spinning as he fell into a deep sleep.
“Good night, Si xiao-Nan,” Zhou Rong said softly in the dark, “Happy New Year.”
In the middle of the night.
The moment a movement occured, Zhou Rong opened his eyes. His senses were tense, and he immediately sat up.
Starlight shone into the bedroom through the windows, and he saw Si Nan, bleary-eyed, carrying a pillow and swaying his way over, before squeezing onto the couch. He wanted Zhou Rong to move further aside, and then he laid down right next to him.
This was a huge shock to Zhou Rong. Using his elbows to support the upper half of his body, he stared for a moment, then asked probingly, “Si Nan? … Si xiao-Nan?”
Si Nan’s jujitsu must have been trained to perfection. In this cramped little space, he could still lie down with his back facing Zhou Rong, curling up into a ball and hugging his pillow. He was sleeping very peacefully, even snoring very slightly.
“… Are you throwing yourself at me, Comrade Si xiao-Nan?”
The bedroom was silent, and no reply came.
Zhou Rong’s heart warmed. He couldn’t help but smile. So he lifted Si Nan up, in a princess carry, and moved him over to the bed. There, under one blanket, the two people fell asleep.
In his grogginess, Si Nan felt a slight warmth on his temple — the good night kiss missing tonight. In his clouded consciousness, he mumbled something. It was not clear what he had said, but he tucked his head into the bare and muscular crook of Zhou Rong’s neck, falling asleep comfortably.