Chapter 49: “Leave Yan Zhixing.”
Shen Yao handed it to Guan Shu with his right hand, but Guan Shu still held it tightly. Back then, Shen Yao leaned against his embrace and happily wore the ring he had given, with a smile in his eyes.
Guan Shu thought it was a reconciliation, but in fact, it was a weapon he handed over with his own hands. Shen Yao discarded the ring in a blink of an eye.
Starting over, Guan Shu’s choice remained the same. He took the ring off the black string and placed it on Shen Yao’s finger, asking in a low voice:
“Will it be discarded this time as well?”
He didn’t kneel down like a proposal, but his stern gaze softened, filled with devotion and focus.
“Perhaps it won’t.” Shen Yao opened his palm, admiring the ring as it was custom-made for him and fit his hand perfectly. “Does wearing it mean you admit you still like me?”
Guan Shu’s lips tightened, but he remained silent.
Shen Yao didn’t mind. He clenched his fingers and sighed lightly. “You clearly like me, so why do you keep hurting me over and over again, saying hurtful things?”
“Do you think I enjoy hearing those things, or is that what you truly believe in your heart?”
Guan Shu’s expression became visibly flustered, and he instinctively explained, “No… I don’t think that way…”
“When you see someone hurting me, you feel heartbroken and wish for their demise,” Shen Yao’s slender neck, as beautiful as a swan’s, was gently touched by his right hand. The ring on his middle finger gleamed with silver light. There was no blame in his tone, only a recounting of facts. “But Guan Shu, you have strangled me twice, knowing full well that I can’t swim, yet you pushed me into the pool.”
“I couldn’t see any light source, couldn’t breathe any air, and my throat felt like it was burning in pain. Guan Shu, I thought you really wanted to strangle me with your own hands.”
Guan Shu’s once firm and decisive gaze had now become panicked, like a child who had done something wrong. His lips trembled incessantly, but he couldn’t find the right words to explain.
“If that’s what you truly desire.” Shen Yao grabbed his hand and guided it towards his vulnerable neck, his expression calm and composed. “There can indeed be no barriers between our deaths, and you can do it with your own hands.”
Just as their fingertips made contact, Guan Shu quickly withdrew his hand as if it had been burned. Perhaps, as Xu Yibai had said, he was indeed an alpha who couldn’t control his emotions.
He was accustomed to acting impulsively and recklessly, often regretting his actions afterward. He had also done things that hurt Shen Yao, yet he still wanted to complain.
The sharp edges on Guan Shu had long receded. He, such a tall alpha, half crouched in front of Shen Yao, holding his hand but not exerting too much force. His voice was dry, as if filled with gravel. “I’m sorry…”
“No need to apologize, I haven’t finished speaking.” Shen Yao soothingly touched Guan Shu’s hand in return. “I’ve removed your lifelong mark, do you remember?”
Guan Shu began to experience an unidentified ringing in his ears. His Adam’s apple bobbed, and he asked, “Has your body… been affected?”
He remembered, how could he forget?
At that time, Guan Shu had hated Shen Yao for toying with his emotions, for his infidelity, and most of all, for cleaning away his lifelong mark.
Since reuniting, he mentioned this lifelong mark countless times, but for Shen Yao, it was merely a trivial matter.
He had always been conflicted about forcibly marking Shen Yao for a lifetime. Sometimes he felt it was justified, as it was his only opportunity to hold onto him. At other times, he regretted his decision because, at that time, he had never considered Shen Yao.
“On the day of the surgery, I didn’t ask Uncle Guan to accompany me because I felt embarrassed. I changed into the gown by myself and walked into the operating room. Luckily, the nurse who administered anesthesia and the surgeon were both gentle. One of them reassured me, saying, ‘Don’t worry too much, the procedure won’t be painful. You’ll fall asleep and wake up, and it will be over.’ But Guan Shu, as you know, I really hate the smell of disinfectant in hospitals.” Shen Yao’s gaze fluctuated deeply, lost in his memories. “The gown was thin, and as I laid on the operating table, I could feel the coldness against my back. I didn’t know if I was scared at that moment, perhaps I should have been scared. I was thinking, the procedure won’t be painful, but will it hurt when I wake up? If it hurts, will I be able to endure that pain? However, it was true what he said, there was just a bit of pain when the needle of anesthesia pierced my skin.”
“I counted with him, and by the third second, I had already lost consciousness. The last thing I saw was the blazing light, and when I woke up, the first thing I saw was a blinding white light. I was still alone in the room.”
He described everything so vividly, retracing the timeline, making it feel as if one were there. Guan Shu felt as if he had been struck from a distance, his face even paler than Shen Yao’s. As he listened to Shen Yao’s words, he broke out in a cold sweat, and his eyes gradually grew warm.
“After the surgery, I had a fever for three consecutive days. On the first day when my fever was at its worst, my uncle came to see me, with Shen Shenmian following behind.” Shen Yao covered Guan Shu’s lips and continued speaking, absorbed in his own words. “You once asked me if my uncle was good to me or not, right? Now I’ll tell you the answer. No, he’s not good to me at all.”
“He keeps me only because I’m an omega. If nothing unexpected happens, he would have married me off to someone else when I grew up. But I’ve been marked by you for a lifetime. Do you know what that means?”
“—Guan Shu, it means I’ve lost my value. So, do you know how he treats me?”
Shen Yao seemed to view himself as a commodity, speaking of himself in that manner, and Guan Shu’s heart felt as if it were being tightly squeezed.
“He threw everything in the ward at me, and something hit my forehead, causing a lot of bleeding. He called me a worthless piece of trash, he called me cheap,” Shen Yao calmly recounted. “Uncle Guan came in at that moment, carrying a basket of fruits. He protected me.”
The more nonchalant Shen Yao appeared, the more overwhelmed Guan Shu felt by guilt. His head buzzed, Guan Yan refused to let him hear any news about Shen Yao. These were all things he was hearing for the first time.
His mind began to piece together the scene. Eighteen-year-old Shen Yao must have been even thinner than he is now, and the hospital gown on him would have been much looser, empty, allowing a lot of air to flow in.
He walked into the operating room alone and underwent the surgery alone. When Shen Fulin burst in, Shen Yao should have still been hooked up to an IV drip. He was so frail, how could he have resisted?
He should have been by Shen Yao’s side, but he wasn’t.
“He was bad to you, right?! I’ll help you seek revenge, Yao Yao… I swear… I’ll make him suffer more than death.” Guan Shu’s body trembled as he leaned down, tightly embracing Shen Yao. “Yao Yao, I’m sorry… I’m sorry.”
“I hurt you, and you hurt me. Are we even now? I don’t want to hear apologies; they’re worthless.” Shen Yao’s hand rested on Guan Shu’s shoulder. “I don’t want to hear apologies; they’re worthless. I just want to hear that you like me.”
After Shen Yao said so much, it seemed like he only wanted to hear that statement in return.
This time, Guan Shu didn’t hesitate for a moment. He decisively nodded and repeated in his ear over and over again, “I like you, Yao Yao… I’ve always, always liked you.”
To let Shen Yao see the emotions in his dark eyes clearly, he slowly loosened his embrace and stared at Shen Yao, saying it once again:
“I love you.”
Guan Shu had said countless times to himself and to others that he no longer liked Shen Yao, that he didn’t care about him anymore.
He thought that all he had left for Shen Yao was hatred born from betrayal, hurling insults and saying all sorts of hurtful things.
He told himself that he didn’t need to cherish Shen Yao, that it was enough to degrade him and treat him as a mere lover to sleep with.
All of these were nothing but self-deceptive lies, excuses he created for himself. He had deluded himself into believing that he didn’t like Shen Yao.
That delusion was as fragile as a bubble, easily popped by Shen Yao’s beckoning finger.
The truth was that hate was born out of love. He was like a dog abandoned by its owner, seeking every opportunity to approach Shen Yao, yet unwilling to show him kindness. He could only use brute force to bite down on him, leaving deep bite marks on Shen Yao, forcefully compelling him to stay in place.
He couldn’t degrade Shen Yao. Shen Yao had always been indifferent to him, his feelings as shallow as a mannequin.
The anger, the hatred, the despair, all of it belonged to him alone.
After graduating from the military academy, he had so many choices, yet Guan Shu returned to the capital to become a prosecutor. He chose a stable and proper path that didn’t align with his personality at all.
But it was the path that brought him closest to Shen Yao. He went in circles and ended up back where he started, just to watch Shen Yao from afar.
He had pushed things with Shen Yao to such an extent, and he was the only one who knew about Shen Yao’s infidelity. He didn’t utter a word to Guan Yan, leading Guan Yan to blame him for everything.
Because he still held onto the hope that in the future, he would have a chance to bring Shen Yao back home.
When Guan Shu accompanied Shen Yao home, they ran into Xu Yibai, but Guan Shu didn’t directly expose Shen Yao because he was afraid of being chosen. He believed that Shen Yao would choose Xu Yibai and not even give him the title of a lover.
He was just that pathetic, that despicable. It was just a tiny bit of affection that he captured from Shen Yao, and he couldn’t put on that pretense of indifference anymore.
“Guan Shu, do you care about that lifelong mark?” Shen Yao casually beckoned with his finger, and Guan Shu instinctively leaned in.
He hadn’t grown at all. Shen Yao always held the collar engraved with his name, a collar he could never break free from in his lifetime. The ring was on Shen Yao’s finger, while the invisible collar was fastened around his own neck.
Shen Yao opened his arms and willingly embraced Guan Shu, whispering, “Can you treat me well like you did in high school? Can you be as considerate and accommodating as you were before?”
Guan Shu hadn’t heard Shen Yao speak to him like this in a long time. Without hesitation, he nodded and said, “Okay.”
He tilted his face up and placed a kiss on the prominent Adam’s apple of Guan Shu, as if leaving behind a pledge that could be redeemed. “If you obey, I’ll allow you to mark me once again for a lifetime. This time, it will truly last.”
Guan Shu tightened his grip around Shen Yao’s waist, feeling both surprised and at a loss after regaining what was once lost. He nodded again and said, “…Okay.”
Shen Yao caught a faint smell of smoke on Guan Shu, probably from him smoking at home, the scent not yet dissipated.
In high school, Guan Shu didn’t smoke or drink.
Shen Yao asked, “When did you learn to smoke?”
Guan Shu responded to Shen Yao’s question without hesitation and without a hint of falsehood, speaking softly, “After we broke up.”
During that time, he could only numb himself with nicotine and alcohol, living as if in a drunken stupor.
“Quit it.” Shen Yao wrinkled his nose and said, “I don’t like the smell of smoke.”
They held each other for a while, and then Shen Yao gently pushed him away. Guan Shu instinctively exerted some force with his hand at first, but then reluctantly and obediently let go.
Only now did Shen Yao begin to survey his own room. The layout and design were directly handled by a designer and didn’t require much effort from him.
But Shen Yao didn’t like messiness. He furrowed his brow slightly and started counting the furniture one by one, “Guan Shu, my coffee table, chairs, bookshelf…”
“I’ll compensate you.”
Before he finished counting, Guan Shu instinctively reached into his pocket for his bank card, only to find it empty.
Guan Shu’s actions paused for a moment, and he quickly said, “I have money to compensate you. Don’t ask Xu Yibai for compensation. I won’t split the cost with him, I’ll pay it all.”
Shen Yao couldn’t help but smile. He propped up his face and nodded, naturally ordering, “Then go cook something for me. Xu Yibai’s noodles have gotten cold.”
Guan Shu immediately got up. As he passed by the dining table, he glanced at the noodles cooked by Xu Yibai. He wanted to make a more luxurious dish but found that Shen Yao’s kitchen ingredients were limited.
Suppressing his disgust, he could only make a similar bowl of noodles, albeit with a few fewer vegetables than Xu Yibai’s.
Guan Shu brought the noodles over, and since there was no table, he held it in his hands and used them as a makeshift surface for Shen Yao. After Shen Yao finished eating, Guan Shu tidied everything up.
“Yao Yao,” he tightly embraced Shen Yao, his gaze, which had been suppressed for a while, now revealed a sense of oppression. “Leave Yan Zhixing, and I will protect you.”
He didn’t receive any explanation about Shen Yao’s affair and still chose to reconcile with him. He didn’t want to continue tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep. He considered everything in the past as the past, knowing that Shen Yao might still be deceiving him.
This time, he would keep a close eye on Shen Yao.
Shen Yao could only have him by his side now.