In the end, Zhou Jinheng straightened up his arms first and then got out of bed.
Yi Hui, finally free, sat up hurriedly. He didn’t have time to take off his shoes and stepped on the sheets several times during the struggle just now. He didn’t care about these things at the moment. He sorted out his clothes casually, stood up and was about to leave when he accidentally caught a glimpse of Zhou Jinheng. The light-colored fabric on his back was stained with deep red. He paused and didn’t step out in the end.
Auntie got off work a long time ago, and Zhou Jinheng didn’t seem to plan to go to the hospital. He grabbed two pieces of clothes and went to the bathroom.
When he came out, his face was paler than before. When he saw Yi Hui holding the medicine box, he was taken aback for a moment, and then he opened his mouth and said, “What’s the point of coming back? Are you not afraid I’ll use force on you again?”
Yi Hui didn’t say anything, put down the medicine box, took out two bottles of medicine and gauze from it, went around Zhou Jinheng and applied alcohol to the wounds on his back with a cotton swab.
The cuts left by the glass shards were no longer bleeding, but they looked deep. When the cotton swab touched, as strong as Zhou Jinheng was, his muscles tensed up in pain and his shoulder blades contracted inward involuntarily.
His upper body was naked, and as soon as Yi Hui lowered his head, he could see all kinds of new and old wounds on his flesh, including several places where Yi Hui had helped apply medicine a few days ago. They were not completely healed, the remaining bruises still faintly visible.
His heart clenched for no reason. After disinfecting the cuts, unscrewing the cap of another bottle of medicine, Yi Hui rubbed his cheek with the back of his hand. The skin touched by the other’s tears was still hot, as if it had been scalded.
Obviously he was very resilient and had never cried even when he was hurt badly.
The lion, sickly after wasting his violent outburst, slept until almost noon the next day.
Yi Hui kept to the agreement and did not leave early in the morning today to make up for the time he missed yesterday. Auntie was a little worried and asked him to go up and knock on the door to see what was going on. Yi Hui felt conflicted when he thought of what happened last night, and thought of the shocking large blood stain. After some struggle, he still accepted his fate and went upstairs to knock on the door.
After he waited at the door for a while, no one opened it and he couldn’t hear movement inside. Yi Hui held the handle and gently turned it, and it wasn’t locked.
Zhou Jinheng was lying on the bed, his eyes closed tightly. His face was not as pale as yesterday; however, the redness of his cheeks was not natural. Yi Hui called him twice and he didn’t respond. He stepped forward and touched his forehead. His skin was hot; he really had a fever.
Auntie handed Yi Hui a basin full of cold water and hung a clean towel on his shoulder: “I have to watch the porridge here, please take care of Mr. Zhou.”
The drawing that Yi Hui had to catch up on had already been finished in the morning, and there was nothing else to do at this moment. He couldn’t find a reason to shirk, so he had to go upstairs with the basin.
Few people probably knew that Zhou Jinheng was very restless in his sleep; not only did he move around, but he also liked to grab things to press into his arms. In his previous life, the two of them slept in the same bed. When they laid down, Zhou Jinheng’s position was standard; but after a while, he stretched out his arms and legs, looking for someone. Yi Hui was hugged by him several times and did not dare to move. Nervous, he secretly smiled, hoping that he would hold him for a while.
Now that he was sick and restless, he moved over and over again, frowning and huffing, moving his wounds. The towel Yi Hui put on his forehead fell off seven or eight times in half an hour, and he was so angry that he unfolded the towel and tied a knot on his head.
This time it couldn’t fall down. Yi Hui stood up and wanted to go out to get some air. As soon as he left the chair, his hand was grabbed by the man who was still asleep on the bed. Coincidentally, it was the place where his hand was squeezed to redness yesterday. Yi Hui was startled and was about to pull out his hand when he heard a series of whispered words.
“HuiHui, don’t go, don’t go…” Zhou Jinheng frowned, sweat covering his forehead, as if he had a terrible dream, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it’s all my fault, don’t go… don’t go, okay?”
In the end, he was young and his health was good. After taking medicine and some cooling products, Zhou Jinheng woke up in the afternoon.
When he sat up, he untied the towel tied to his head. When he went downstairs, it smelled of food. Auntie raised her voice and said, “You finally woke up. Come and eat.”
Zhou Jinheng was the only one at the table. After taking a sip of porridge, he raised his head and asked, “How about him?”
“You mean Mr. Yi?” Auntie was still used to calling Yi Hui that way, “He went out, just less than an hour ago.”
Seeing Zhou Jinheng’s face looking somewhat lost, Auntie continued: “He must have gone to buy you something good to eat. At noon you were burning up so badly that he went out of his way to put a towel on your forehead, otherwise your temperature wouldn’t have dropped so quickly.”
Remembering the towel that was simply and rudely stuck on his forehead, Zhou Jinheng smiled, thinking that the little fool wouldn’t have stayed to take care of him if he hadn’t felt responsible.
Since he grasped this point and asked Yi Hui to help him apply medicine, he should have known that those seemingly softening actions were all delusions, and last night’s hatred and resistance were his real reactions.
Being honest about what happened in his past life was a risky move, and now he was getting the worst of it.
But Zhou Jinheng didn’t regret it. Instead of deliberately keeping his distance because Yi Hui didn’t like it, he would rather be slapped in an attempt to touch him. It would be even better if he could suffer a little injury. The little fool was kind-hearted; even if he didn’t feel distressed for him, he would at least stay and take care of him like this.
Before, an entertainment reporter made up a story saying that he deliberately injured himself during filming in an attempt to use self-harm to gain attention. At that time, he dismissed it, but now he was using this method to attract Yi Hui’s attention in a dignified manner. Zhou Jinheng felt that he might go crazy unless he did everything he could.
But there was a reason for the loss of control last night, and it was not what he had wished for.
After drinking the porridge, he received a call from his sister Zhou Jinyue who asked him out for dinner. Thinking that he hadn’t seen his sister for a few days and that she would soon go back to study abroad, Zhou Jinheng agreed, changed clothes and went out.
The back injury still hurt. Before getting out of the car, Zhou Jinheng took a few deep breaths sitting in the driver’s seat, and then picked up a paper bag and opened the door.
Zhou Jinyue liked sweets, so he bought two portions along the way, and kept the one in the car to take back to Yi Hui.
He thought it was dinner with his sister, but when he was led to the designated seat by the waiter, he found that Fang Yuqing was also at the table.
After saying hello, Zhou Jinheng put down his things and watched Zhou Jinyue take out a beautifully packaged dessert from the paper bag. Fang Yuqing smiled and said, “I thought you were just angry when you said your tastes had changed. I didn’t think they really had.”
Zhou Jinyue didn’t know the situation. Thinking that the two of them were about to reconcile, she butted in and said, “My brother is unpredictable and can change all the time, but his heart for you will never change.”
Because of her presence, Zhou Jinheng did not immediately refute. When the dishes were on the table, Fang Yuqing took advantage of the distance to put food into his bowl over and over again. Zhou Jinheng couldn’t help but cover the bowl with his hand and say, “I’ll do it myself.”
In order to hide his embarrassment, Fang Yuqing put down his chopsticks and turned to pick up a spoon to scoop up the dessert on the side: “I will also taste how delicious it is.” Taking a mouthful of the cream, he praised, “It really smells good… but it’s too flashy. Won’t you get tired of eating too much? Spicy and fresh flavor of our Chinese food is better.”
Zhou Jinheng noticed that he had something to say, and when Zhou Jinyue went to the bathroom, he talked to Fang Yuqing openly: “No matter what the purpose of the voice message sent to me yesterday was, I think I have expressed my intent clearly enough. YueYue is still young and doesn’t understand anything. Let’s be friends.”
It was the first time he heard Zhou Jinheng talking to himself in a warning tone. Fang Yuqing was a little surprised and then smiled again: “What purpose can I have? I was afraid you would be deceived and just wanted to remind you.”
Zhou Jinheng said lightly: “No need to bother, it is my own business.”
“Didn’t you say that you couldn’t forget him? Then now this…”
Thinking of watching the man get off the co-pilot seat of Zhou Jinheng’s car from upstairs at the Art Association that day, Fang Yuqing clenched his fists subconsciously. It was embarrassing enough to lose to a fool, and now a substitute appeared, how could he be happy about it.
“This one is true love, the kind that will last a lifetime.” Zhou Jinheng said, “Even if he says he doesn’t love me.”
Fang Yuqing looked at him, trying to find traces of anger in his expression. Any emotional fluctuations meant that Zhou Jinheng still had affection for him. However, he couldn’t find anything at all. He said it so easily and frankly, as if it was a matter of course and there was nothing to question.
Halfway through the dinner, Zhou Jinheng got up to leave and said to Zhou Jinyue, “Your sister-in-law is still waiting for me at home.”
Zhou Jinyue blinked in confusion, glanced at Fang Yuqing, and then looked at Zhou Jinheng: “Sister-in-law? What sister-in-law?”
Zhou Jinheng smiled and rubbed her head: “What other sister-in-law can there be? You, little girl, have such a bad memory at a young age. Your sister-in-law never changed.”
When he turned away, Fang Yuqing said behind his back: “You are right, the past is the past, and no amount of apology or compensation can make up for the missed time.”
Zhou Jinheng was startled, then turned his head and said, “There’s always a way to make up a little bit of what you can.”
Looking at his back, Fang Yuqing fiddled with the knife and the fork on the table and muttered to himself, “Yes, there is always a way.”
Back in the car, Zhou Jinheng glanced at the paper bag placed in the co-pilot. At the thought of taking this home and Yi Hui not even looking at it, the belated heaviness spread across his heart and filled every empty corner.
For a year, he stayed by the little fool in every possible way. Looking back, he did everything he could and couldn’t do, but none of those things entered the little fool’s heart, failing to move him even a little bit.
Thinking of those unperturbed eyes and the cold sentence “I don’t love you”, the anxiety suppressed in his bones began to stir again.
Zhou Jinheng called Yang Chengxuan.
On Yang Chengxuan’s side it was dawn, so he angrily scolded him for disturbing his dreams. Zhou Jinheng ignored him and asked directly: “How can I compensate someone who has died once in order to be forgiven?”
Yang Chengxuan cursed a few more times and yawned when he was tired of cursing: “You didn’t run into any evil spirits again, did you?”
Zhou Jinheng: “Answer the question.”
Yang Chengxuan just woke up, his mind was not clear, and he was speaking nonsense: “Did you die once too?”
Zhou Jinheng: “I can’t die, I have to protect him.”
“Why do you give me problems all day long? I haven’t experienced this kind of thing, so how can I help you with suggestions?” Yang Chengxuan scratched his hair and rolled over on the bed, “Hey, what about that, don’t you want to compensate him? Give him what you couldn’t give him before, or if you wronged him before, wrong others the same way. It is simple and brutal but it works wonders.”
At night, Yi Hui sent Auntie away and stood at the entrance of the courtyard to look at the end of the road. There was no figure approaching or car coming. He returned to the house and went to the kitchen to tidy up the fridge again.
When he came back in the evening, he bought some fruits. Auntie said that it was best to keep them fresh in the fridge and Mr. Zhou could eat them when he came back. He said that he didn’t buy them for him, and Auntie laughed at his hypocrisy.
Even if a part of them was indeed bought for Zhou Jinheng, it was because he injured him and was making amends with fruit.
Thinking about it this way, Yi Hui took a mango and prepared to eat it by himself. After washing it, he couldn’t find a fruit knife anywhere. He remembered that Auntie took it upstairs to use when cleaning the bathroom at night. She must have forgotten to take it back. He went upstairs to the bathroom to find the knife but didn’t find it. Unexpectedly, he saw a pair of cartoon electric toothbrushes on the sink.
One was printed with a naive Doraemon and the other was printed with a smirking Nobita. The Doraemon one still had a lid on it and the Nobita one did not. Obviously, it had been used today.
Yi Hui considered himself a guest in this house and never used the bathroom upstairs. After coming out, he opened the door and passed by the room that used to be a guest room on the south side. When he saw the vertical painting board and neatly stacked drawings inside, he almost walked in impulsively.
Still holding back, Yi Hui told himself not to act rashly; these things did not belong to him. Passing by the master bedroom with its door open, he caught a glimpse of the fireworks painting hanging above the head of the bed. He hurriedly withdrew his gaze, turned his head and closed his eyes not to look.
He had seen this painting the first time he applied medicine to Zhou Jinheng, so he didn’t get shocked when he recognised it. It was at most a slight stirring of emotion.
And more important than that seemingly insignificant feeling was freedom. He made up his mind that if he continued to ignore it, he could get through this and return to his quiet life.
The mango was chewed and swallowed in the end. Yi Hui didn’t dare to use a kitchen knife. He bit the flesh while peeling. He ate carefully, but still splashed a few drops of juice on his neck.
While scrubbing himself in front of the mirror, he pulled his neckline and saw the red marks on his collarbone that hadn’t subsided. He also rubbed them with water. He thought that the guy was still as strong as ever, his hands strong and his mouth strong. Letting him beat him up might have been deliberate, in order to make him feel guilty.
He had to say that this trick worked very well. Hearing the door open, Yi Hui did not rush back to his room as quickly as before, but took the medicine box and waited in the living room.
Zhou Jinheng was holding a cigarette when he came in. He was stunned when he saw Yi Hui, then he pinched the cigarette and threw it outside the door. Before entering the house, he picked up the perfume on the cabinet at the entrance and sprayed it on his body.
Yi Hui couldn’t remember when he forbade him to smoke. He only remembered that Zhou Jinheng was not addicted to smoking.
However, he was not addicted to alcohol, but didn’t he get drunk every day some time ago? Yi Hui didn’t bother to delve into it. He took the medicine and a cotton swab, showing to Zhou Jinheng that he was ready and could start at any time.
Perhaps because he was afraid that Yi Hui would be in a hurry, Zhou Jinheng did not go to take a shower first, but went to the kitchen to boil a kettle of water. When he came back, he took off his upper clothes and turned his back to let Yi Hui apply medicine.
Yi Hui was not worried that he would do the same thing that happened yesterday again. He looked calm with the wounds in the core position of his back, where the skin was prone to being pulled by various muscles in the body. The slightest carelessness could make the injuries break open and cause pain. He certainly wouldn’t dare to move.
Starting from his straight wide shoulders and following all the way down to the thin waist, Yi Hui first wiped off the blood stains around the wounds with alcohol, and then applied rubbing alcohok on the remaining bruises.
The skin under the tips of his fingers was slightly hot but there should be no fever. Yi Hui put the antipyretic medicine he took out back in the medicine box. Zhou Jinheng suddenly turned his head and asked, “Isn’t it ugly?”
Yi Hui didn’t know what he wanted to hear, thought for a while and said, “Your fans can’t see here.”
Zhou Jinheng turned around, revealing a long scar on his face that was not covered with makeup: “What about here?”
Yi Hui was not sure if he did it on purpose; he didn’t want to see the scar.
This scar was like a crack that appeared on the surface of smooth porcelain. Even if it was not very visible to the eyes of passers-by, appeared as if it could still be repaired and did not detract from its perfection, he still found it piercing and his heart throbbed every time he saw it.
The Zhou Jinheng he knew should be perfect; he shouldn’t have to wear such a scar and stare at himself with bloodshot wounded eyes.
“True fans won’t mind either.” With opposite words on his lips, Yi Hui lowered his eyes and said, “You don’t have to worry about my sister.”
It seemed to be comforting, but it hardly served as a comfort. Zhou Jinheng smiled and said, “Yes, she burned those things… all of them.”
For some reason, while he looked calm and collected on the surface, Yi Hui sensed a chill and danger emanating from him.
“What about you?” Zhou Jinheng continued to ask, “What do I have to do for you to forgive me?”
What is meant to be is meant to be. Yi Hui took a breath, his gaze unfocused, looking nowhere: “I said, I am not him, you shouldn’t ask me this.”
As long as he didn’t admit it, Zhou Jinheng couldn’t do anything to him – he knew this from the beginning, but now he took this knowledge out and used it to build defenses and repel enemies that tried to invade.
He heard Zhou Jinheng chuckle and say, “I know.”
Hearing the sound of footsteps, Yi Hui raised his head ignorantly and looked at the tall figure walking to the kitchen.
Zhou Jinheng returned with the kettle full of water that had just been boiled, filled the teacup on the table, the water overflowing a little bit on the table.
He said: “I used to treat him badly, bullied him, and hurt him. Now that he is clear-headed, he must hate me to death.”
After packing up the medicine chest, Yi Hui wanted to go back upstairs quickly. He wanted to close the door of his room without listening or looking, but he also subconsciously wanted to shake his head and say no, his gaze fixed on the cup of water.
What was Yi Hui thinking when he held that cup and didn’t let go?
Thinking – I love him, I want him to be happy, if my pain can be exchanged for his happiness, I can do it again and again.
Really like a madman, a hopeless madman.
The current Zhou Jinheng was similar, smiling with the corners of his mouth, with flames burning in his eyes, like a man trapped in the bottom of an abyss seeing the light over his head, or a man at the end of his rope gaining hard-won hope.
But the man himself was still trapped in the endless night, gloomy and depressed, full of dead wood and ashes.
“Both the palm and the back of the hand are made of flesh…” (1) Zhou Jinheng whispered to himself, picking up the still steaming kettle, “Then let’s do it together.”
He was not ready for what was going to happen next. However, he was not afraid at all. Boiling water gushed out of the mouth of the kettle, and he spread out his palm in the steam, waiting for the retribution to finally come.
Waiting to share the pain that his little fool had suffered.
If it doesn’t hurt that much, hurry up and come back.
- to both be of equal importance / to value both equally