Perhaps it was because YiHan hadn’t been resting well lately. Perhaps it was because a tiny flame of hope was lit up in him. YiHan actually drifted off to sleep soon after he laid down on the bed.
Hazily, he saw JingYuan looking into his eyes. The other man’s eyes were filled to the brim with love. In the deep and mesmerising voice unique to JingYuan, the man repeatedly spoke into his ears.
“HanHan, this really is my dream life. I hope our lives can stay the same even as we grow old. Just like today. We’ll shower together in the evenings and dry each other’s hair.”
“I like to dry your hair. I like to wash your face, wash your back. I like doing anything and everything for you. When I was taking care of you at the hospital, your parents would often say I’m running myself ragged. However, I felt so happy. You’d obediently sit on the bed and wait for me to wash your face with a wet towel. You were just so adorable. I like it even when helping you in the toilet.”
“HanHan, before, I could still control myself. But ever since I’ve gotten together with you, I’ve realised I’m becoming more and more of a pervert. I want to hold you every single moment of the day. My hands never want to part with your skin. I’m always thinking about kissing you. It doesn’t matter if it’s your hair or your feet. I also want to be in the bed with you forever. When you change clothes, I want to lean in and take in your scent. HanHan, I might be touched starved or something worse. I want to turn you into a tiny version of yourself so I can bring you with me everywhere I go. I don’t want to be parted from you, not even for a minute.”
“HanHan, the other half of my life’s goals consists of loving you, protecting you, grow old with you and do my best to live just a little longer than you so you’ll never feel lonely.”
JingYuan repeated those lines over and over again. Gradually, the love in his eyes turned into sorrow. His voice slowly deepened and softened.
“HanHan, you reject being intimate with me. You reject my kisses. HanHan, do you…regret being with me? Is that it?”
“You wouldn’t marry me. You refuse to be near me. HanHan, I…I’m terrified.”
“I thought you loved me. While you might not love me as much as I do you, but i-it’s also love. Was I thinking too highly of myself?”
“Must you torture me so? HanHan, do you still…love me?”
“YiHan, you don’t trust me. With just a few incomplete sentences, you’ve declared all of my feelings for you false. Were all the moments we’d spent together worth nothing to you? Why do you have no faith in me?”
“I don’t understand. How can you so easily say you’d give up on me? I thought you loved me. HanHan, what am I to you?”
JingYuan just stood there. His eyes were overwhelmed by sadness. His face, attacked by immense frustration. Bloody tears streaked down the man’s cheeks.
“HanHan, I whole-heartedly loved you,” he mumbled, “but you’d treat me like this. I don’t want to love you anymore. You’re like a stone that I can never warm up. You’re so very cold…”
YiHan felt a pang in his heart. Panic rose in him. He wanted to embrace the other man. He strained and strained but his body just wouldn’t move. He wanted to shout out, “Don’t be sad! I love you too! I never wanted to give up on you!” but he couldn’t. He couldn’t do anything but watch as JingYuan became more and more depressed. The man grew more and more disappointed in him until he finally turned and left him.
YiHan’s mind was in a mess. He panicked. He did his best to shout for JingYuan, to chase after him, but his legs just wouldn’t move and his voice just wouldn’t work. All he could do was stand there and silently roar over and over again, “JingYuan, come back! Come back!”
JingYuan sat on the floor for a long time. He didn’t know how long. All he knew was chaos ruled his mind. He thought he’d given YiHan all the love that existed within him. Why did YiHan cut off everything between them without a single question? Was YiHan that eager to leave him because he felt as though he’d been cheated? Can YiHan ever trust him again? How should he explain things so YiHan would believe him?
His mind buzzed with random thoughts of how to explain himself, how to save their relationship, how to resolve this misunderstanding standing between them. At least he now knew why YiHan suddenly distanced himself from him and began rejecting his affection, right? He could only plan properly once he knew the reason. This was an improvement, JingYuan consoled himself.
He seemed to have made up many plans, yet it seemed like he couldn’t think of a plan at all. He only knew he absolutely can’t let YiHan leave. They were so close to being together forever. JingYuan can’t let go! He won’t let go!
JingYuan sat there on the icy cold floor for hours, lost in his thoughts. He didn’t even shift or twitch during this time. The longer he sat there, the heavier his head felt.
What was HanHan doing now? Was he asleep? Did he try to leave? If so, would he be even angrier at being stopped by JingYuan’s men? What should JingYuan do to be forgiven? HanHan had his guard up against him. HanHan wouldn’t believe a single word he said. How should he prove his love for HanHan was true?
JingYuan thumped his head hard with a hand. He wayed to his feet and shuffled out of his room. He didn’t want to be all alone anymore. He desperately needed to look in on YiHan. Just a glance.
He walked to YiHan’s door. He stopped. His hand raised, poised to knock on the door. He hesitated. If HanHan was asleep, would a knock on the door wake the younger man up?
He bit down on his lip and decided to just open the door. The handle turned and the door opened. It wasn’t locked. He let out a soft sigh of relief as he bitterly chuckled on the inside. He had fallen so far. He wanted to cheer and giggle at how YiHan felt safe enough not to lock his bedroom door.
JingYuan gently swung the door open. As expected, YiHan was fast asleep. However, the younger man wasn’t sleeping properly at all. YiHan’s head was laying on the mattress with no pillow underneath it. His blanket was still folded away. The man slept horizontally across the bed with his normal clothes still on.
JingYuan’s heart throbbed. Thank goodness he’d come to take a look at the silly young man. Autumn was here. If YiHan had slept through the night as is, the man would’ve caught a cold. In what JingYuan thought to be a “quick walk”, he walked over to the bed. His arms stretched out, about to carry YiHan up in his arms, when he heard a slurred mumble. He froze. Thinking YiHan had been woken up by his entrance, JingYuan looked down in guilt. Contrary to expectations, YiHan was still asleep. But the man’s brows were locked in a tight frown. YiHan’s fair, smooth forehead was covered in a sheen of sweat. Tears streamed from his closed eyes.
Fear struck JingYuan’s heart. He hurriedly knelt down by the bed and attempt to wake YiHan up with a few shoves.
“HanHan?” JingYuan called out. “Is it a nightmare? Wake up!”
In YiHan’s dreams, he was staring at JingYuan’s back as the other man gradually disappeared from his view as YiHan was stuck helpless. YiHan felt as though he was drowning in a deep, dark void of despair when he suddenly heard a panicked voice shouting into his ears.
“HanHan?” the voice shouted. “HanHan, wake up! Wake up!”
It was JingYuan! YiHan’s eyes snapped wide open to be greeted with JingYuan’s flushed face hovering above his. The dejection and sorrow YiHan felt in his dream surged to the front of his mind. YiHan threw his arms around the older man’s neck.
“JingYuan!” YiHan sobbed. “You’re back! You came back…Don’t go. Please. I beg you…”
The force of YiHan throwing himself at JingYuan nearly toppled the sick man. JingYuan swiftly sat up on the bed and wrapped YiHan in a similarly tight embrace.
“I’m not going anywhere,” JingYuan couldn’t help but say. “You’re here. Where can I go? HanHan, was it your dream? Don’t be scared. It’s just a dream, a lie. It’s fine. Don’t be scared. It’s all my fault. I shouted at you and force you to sleep alone.”
YiHan’s hands clutched at the back of JingYuan’s shirt. His mind was still drowning in the bits and pieces he remembered from his dream. His entire body was trembling. His shirt was soaked through with sweat. JingYuan felt as if he could die at the sight. Before he knew it, a hand raised to wipe the tears and sweat off YiHan’s face.
“Don’t cry, babe,” JingYuan softly cooed, his other hand gently patting YiHan on the back. “Don’t cry. Nothing in your dream is real.”
YiHan lifted his hands and stroked JingYuan’s face. “JingYuan,” he muttered, “I’m not a rock. You can warm me up.”
JingYuan’s mind sluggishly tried to comprehend YiHan’s words. “What did you say?” he mumbled back. “Who would dare say you’re a rock?”
As YiHan’s hands lingered over JingYuan’s face, he suddenly realised JingYuan’s temperature didn’t feel right. That thought dragged him out of his dreamy haze. He was wide awake now. He hurriedly touched his forehead against JingYuan’s. All he could feel was a broiling heat. JingYuan’s skin was boiling. YiHan shot to his feet and hopped for the phone on his bedside table. Then, he ran back to press JingYuan, who was staring at him in confusion, back onto the bed. Only then did YiHan turn his attention to the phone to call Dr Chen. As the phone rang, he stomped and paced in circles.
“JingYuan has a high fever!” YiHan barked into the phone the moment he heard someone answer the call. “It’s particularly bad! Hurry over! Wait, no! We’re at the Mu family home! Come to the Mu family home!”
YiHan hung up and threw the phone aside. Then, YiHan “pounced” on the bed. His hands fluttered all over JingYuan’s face and body. Every inch of skin he touched felt hot to the touch. YiHan was so distressed that he could cry.
“Why is it so bad all of a sudden?” YiHan repeatedly mumbled. “It just died off this morning…”
The younger man climbed out of the bed to search for the thermometer. After thoroughly sanitising the device, he shoved it in JingYuan’s mouth. He then hurried away to fetch some wet towels to wipe the man down in an attempt to lower JingYuan’s temperature.
“Why hasn’t Dr Chen arrived yet?” YiHan muttered as he fussed. “He should be here by now. Why isn’t he here yet? Is traffic bad?”
YiHan took the thermometer from JingYuan’s mouth and glanced at it. It was nearly 40 degrees Celsius. His hand shivered so hard that he nearly threw it away.
“Let’s not wait for Dr Chen,” YiHan said, turning back to JingYuan. “How about we head straight for the hospital?” As he said so, he turned away to look for a change for clothes.
JingYuan’s hand shot out and grabbed YiHan by the hand. “It’s fine, HanHan,” said the man. His eyes shimmered from the tears his eyes had produced in response to his fever. “I’ll be fine after taking some aspirin or something. We’ve been to the hospital before, haven’t we? They found nothing wrong with me anyway. If we go, they’ll only give me a saline IV drip and some pills. Dr Chen can do that.”
YiHan’s hand turned and held JingYuan’s hand in return. “Your fever wasn’t so high before,” YiHan said, his other hand reaching up to grasp at his hair. “Just why did it suddenly worsen?
We have to do a thorough check at the hospital. They have all the equipment we’d need there. Let’s hurry.”
“It’s fine,” JingYuan insisted, hand stubbornly pulling YiHan back. “I don’t want to move right now. I know my body. There’s nothing to worry about at all.”
“The heck you know that!” YiHan roared in fury. “You say you know your limits every time! In the end, you’ve been sick for weeks! There’s not an ounce of flesh on you anymore! You’re all skin and bones!”
“It’s not that bad…”
“Stop wasting time,” YiHan said, tugging his hand back. “Come with me!”
JingYuan pursed his lips. He said nothing but he didn’t let go either.
With how high JingYuan’s fever was, he was nearly out of strength. If YiHan really wanted to get away from JingYuan’s grip, there was no way JingYuan could stop him. However, that tiny flicker of hope had just been reignited in YiHan’s heart. Combined with the dream he just had and the red flush overtaking JingYuan’s face, how could YiHan bear to truly struggle away? How could he when JingYuan was so visibly unwilling to let go? YiHan couldn’t do it, so they were stuck in a stalemate.