Edited by PohTahTvh
The pamphlet and forms fell to the ground.
After a few seconds of silence, the lawyer, who had been sitting there like an ice statue, finally had a bit of a reaction.
He stood up, bending down and picking up the pages one by one. Putting them in sequence, he tidied them up by the side of the bed, then placed them back in front of He An. With patience, he said, “Mr. He, you don’t have to be too alarmed. PGRT is a minimally invasive surgery, and it is of limited harm to the body. I suggest that you read through the information first, and understand the surgery itself. If you have any questions, we can consult the doctors too. When you have completely understood the entire process, I believe that you’d be willing to sign on the form stating your informed consent.”
But He An dismissed what he said.
“Take them back, I won’t sign them.”
He sat there, his head bowed. His fringe hung down in front of his face, concealing the usually docile eyes.
The lawyer was a paid employee. Seeing that He An refused to take the initiative to look through the pamphlet, he took out a tablet from his briefcase. Selecting a introductory video to the surgery that he had stored inside, he adjusted the stand of the tablet and placed it by the bed, then played it.
The video started playing. The narrator was an intellectual female voice speaking in English, and it came with Chinese subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
PGRT, its full name Pheromone Gland Replacement Therapy, was a therapy to replace the neck gland that would last for one’s entire life, also known as replacement surgery. This was a minimally invasive surgery that had been developed by Country Z, funded by the human rights group “Pheromones are Not God”, designed to help Alphas and Omegas escape the control of their innate pheromones.
Of course, it was mainly designed for Omegas.
The doctor would cut open the skin behind the neck and implant an artificial neck gland there. For a short time, this artificial gland would release a large amount of replacement pheromones, swiftly replacing the innate pheromones in the patient’s body. When the artificial pheromones reach an adequate concentration, the brain would receive a “wrong” message. It would believe that there was enough secretion of pheromones, it would then suppress the innate pheromones, and the patient would no longer release them.
As long as the artificial pheromones could maintain their balance, the innate pheromones would continue to be dormant.
A machine which had not been used for a long time would rust, and an organ which had not worked for a long time would also wither. In the case of the original gland, this would usually take about two to three years. By then, the original gland would atrophy and wither away, and the patient would have completely changed their type of pheromones. From then on, they would rely on the artificial gland to survive.
Although this surgery was considered minimally invasive, it would completely change the patient’s endocrine system. The cost was high, and the risk as well. The first successful case had only been done less than two years ago, and no one was clear if there would be any long term side effects. If there were, it was unsure how serious they would be.
The video finished playing, and the screen darkened. A circular arrow rotated slowly in the center. Through this black reflecting screen, He An could see his face that was starkly pale.
His heart had thoroughly iced over.
Towards this surgery, he had too many questions. Were the replacement pheromones safe enough? Was there a possibility that they would be rejected by the body? What would happen to the withered, original gland, how would it be dealt with? If an issue occurred to the artificial gland, what would happen to the rest of his life?
It was such a high risk surgery, with such unknown long-term side effects, but to free himself of the constraints of pheromones, Zheng Feiluan was actually eagerly pushing him into the operating theatre.
He An closed the tablet, handing it back to the lawyer, re-emphasising, “I’m not signing it.”
The lawyer was not angry. From the folder, he took out a blue pheromone matching chart, placing it in He An’s hands.
“I understand very well that you have some mental and psychological resistance towards the surgery. After all, in your eyes, the replacement of the pheromones is out of Mr. Zheng’s own selfish interest. However, as a matter of fact, Mr. Zheng is recommending this surgery to you as he believes that it is beneficial to the both of you. To him, as long as you replace your gland, your compatibility rating will decrease, and your attraction to each other will vanish. He will then be able to resolve the trouble of the mate-seeking disorder. To you, your original pheromones are too rare, and emotional isolation has always been a very serious issue. If you replace it with pheromones like the Omega Type 3 one…”
His finger slid through a diagram on the chart, highlighting a line that was above a compatibility rating of 60%. “I believe that you’d soon be able to meet an Alpha you like, and thus have a real love relationship.”
He An was not moved in the slightest. “Sorry, I don’t need one.”
The lawyer had not expected that he would be rejected by an Omega three times in a row, and finally he was nearly at his limits of endurance. A trace of annoyance appeared on his aloof face.
Seeing how conscientious He An was towards his daughter, he momentarily came up with an idea, and spoke evenly, “Mr. He An, I believe I have the duty to remind you that as your Alpha, Zheng Feiluan has the rights to go to the court and seek custody over your daughter.”
He An sat up straight. He ignored the pain around his wound, reaching out and gripping the railing of the infant bassinet tightly.
“What do you mean by that?!”
The lawyer sneered. “It means that Mr. Zheng does not mind having an adorable daughter right now.”
He An’s fury turned his eyes red. “I was the one who gave birth to this child, how shameless can you guys get?!”
He suddenly recalled something, and pulled the bassinet towards him in a panic. Like a hen protecting its chicks, he blocked her firmly from sight, afraid that like just now, a moment of carelessness would cause Linglan to be pushed away by other people.
The lawyer was still as calm as ever. “I don’t really understand that statement. She’s Mr. Zheng’s daughter. Mr. Zheng is willing to raise her, and he has the finances to do so as well. The court will not be able to find a reason to object, so, why is it shameless?”
He An protected Linglan, lifting his head and glaring at the lawyer in hate. In his eyes were a fire that showed his willingness to go all out for his daughter. However, as the fire abated, his logic returned, and he was surrounded by an uneasy anxiousness.
What did he have to fight against Zheng Feiluan?
He did not even have a single chip in his hand.
If the relationship between Zheng Feiluan and him was a gamble, then the dealer, the buyer, the one deciding the rules, the one deciding the gains and losses, and even the one deciding if they were going to continue gambling… they were all Zheng Feiluan. He was only a player without any chips, kidnapped and forced to the betting table. No matter how unwilling he was, he had to take on all the responsibilities.
He had already fallen to such a sorry state, and he could not lose Linglan, the only thing he had left, as well. This little plump face, he was going to watch it for the rest of his life, guard her for the rest of his life. How could he bear to hand her over to someone else?
“Give me a pen, I’ll sign it.”
He An caved in, every word squeezed hoarsely out from between his clenched teeth.
A document stating his informed consent and agreement to the surgery was placed in front of him, as well as an uncapped pen.
The lawyer said, “Here, please.”
He An was like a shadow puppet at the mercy of others. He followed the instructions given to him, signing his name on a very thick stack of documents, which included the informed consent form, as well as that newly drafted agreement between Zheng Feiluan and him — he knew that all the conditions listed within were disadvantageous to him, but he did not read a single word.
The lawyer checked everything. Upon confirming that nothing was missing, he packed them all properly in the folder before placing the folder in his briefcase.
Having achieved his aim, he took his briefcase and stood up, that original mask of respect and politeness back on his face. “Please do not worry, Mr. Zheng has arranged for a team of experts from Country Z, and your safety is definitely guaranteed.”
He An sat there quietly, not saying a word.
Seeing that, the lawyer did not continue saying anything else. He nodded at He An before opening the door and leaving.
On the 25th of January, when Linglan was a month old, He An was arranged to have the surgery.
Today was still a day of heavy snowfall, but the sun was bright, and the temperature was slightly warm. In an inpatient ward of Yuanjiang University Affiliated No. 1 Hospital, He An was carrying Linglan as he basked for a moment in the sun streaming in through the full glass windows.
Thirty days had passed, and Linglan had grown quite a bit. From a wrinkled little bun, she had now become a fair and tender little bun. On her head was a cotton hat with rabbit ears, and she was dressed in a goose-yellow infant sleeper. They were all month-old celebratory gifts from the muscular Alpha and round-faced Omega couple. Linglan had just finished drinking her milk, and was currently smacking her lips in concentration. Her eyes were fixed upon He An’s face, looking both innocent and charming, and she gurgled a laugh.
He An too was gently smiling at her.
Within a few minutes, Linglan fell asleep peacefully. He An handed her over to Cheng Xiu, instructing him, “You must take care of her properly for me.”
“What are you saying?” Cheng Xiu did not like such words at all. “You’re also not undergoing a major surgery, a lobotomy, or an amputation, and you’d be out in the blink of an eye. For all you know, when you’re done, Linglan would not even have woken up yet.”
“Mn, I’ll be out in the blink of an eye.” He An fiddled with the two rabbit ears by Linglan’s head, talking to her gently, “Then… Papa is leaving first. Sleep well, and be good.”
At ten in the morning, the light outside the operating theatre for the department of pheromones lit up.
A small patch on He An’s head had been shaved, revealing a clean, smooth nape. The skin there was very very fair, completely flawless, like a perfect piece of jade. Drop by drop, the sedative entered He An’s bloodstream. A bright, shiny scalpel sliced into his flesh, and blood welled out. A faint scent of lilies of the valley slowly filled the air, surprisingly pleasant.
No one could understand why such a beautiful fragrance like this could have become a “sin”.
Due to the effect of the sedative, the pain was not as intense as imagined. It felt as though someone had drawn on the back of his neck with a ballpoint pen. A small amount of blood dripped down the neck, collecting at the chin, and the nurse wiped the blood away with a clean disinfectant wipe.
He An shut his eyes, his head becoming heavier and heavier. His consciousness slowly faded away, and his body felt as though it was floating up in the air.
The sound of rain could vaguely be heard. As the rain grew stronger, the sound of water was heard, splashing everywhere. Protecting the dewy bouquet of lilies of the valley in his arms, he squeezed his way down the bus. In front of him, countless passersby ran past him, covering their heads with their clothes or advertising pamphlets.
That day, the pet shop happened to not have many customers. To earn a bit more money, He An helped the flower shop next door, Floroma, to deliver their flowers to a young lady staying in a VIP room in Jiusheng Hotel.
On the marble stairs outside the hotel, there stood a tall male Alpha — dressed in a black suit, with a long cashmere coat draped over him. In his hand was an umbrella with a wooden handle, and the tip of the umbrella was on the ground. The man’s facial features were defined and deepset, and he was looking steadily forward, calmly gazing at a statue in the middle of the plaza, his posture as straight as a board.
It was him.
From afar, He An studied him, his vision turning into a HD lens that processed what he saw ten thousand times slower.
He had never known that he could actually see someone so clearly before.
The strong winds blew every drop of rain askew, and countless, tiny glittering water droplets flew towards the man, landing on the expensive pure cashmere coat. He An heard his heart sing, urging him to turn into a water droplet, a fleck of dust, and fly over in delight and joy. To attach himself to this Alpha, to hide in that warm cashmere, to use his lungs and breathe in his scent, and to follow him home.
This unexpected light shone into the dark that had clung to He An for over twenty years, making him feel blessed, but also abashed. He was willing to offer up his love and his soul, sacrificing himself to it all.
Forty odd days later, this Alpha rashly trespassed into He An’s home, forcefully thrusting his cock into He An’s body.
Lying under the man’s body, He An grasped for the tiny bits of pleasure in the wracking pain. He stubbornly believed that in the Alpha’s violent sexual desire, there was still some bits of love within. Each time the man found his release, he would wrap He An up in his arms that were covered with a thin film of sweat. He would gaze at He An with deeply doting eyes, filled with lingering affection. He would kiss that bright red mole on He An’s chest, and He An could never bear to blame him.
You’re ill, you’re not conscious. Like a young child, you need comforting, so how can I bear to castigate you?
He An would peck his forehead with a kiss, telling him, everything was fine.
Feiluan, everything’s fine.
Despite how temporary the gentleness is, and even how we never acknowledge each other when you’re awake, I still don’t hate you.
But Zheng Feiluan, why, at the end of the day, I have to endure all the pain, and still have to endure your hatred and anger?
You hate that I stripped you of your rationality, that I kidnapped your love, that I was scheming for your money. Even though you knew very well that ever since the day we met, I had never actually gotten anything, perhaps… other than Linglan. You always stood on that place, up above, refusing to come down and speak to me as equals. Because of my love and my tolerance, I lost my home, I lost my education and work, I lost my pheromones that I was born with, and I too lost a pitiful, unfortunate heart.
This is not love, and I’m no longer willing to continue drowning in it.
The moment the scalpel slid through the back of his nape, the icy feeling was like a strong, powerful hand, yanking He An out of the mires of his pheromones.
Zheng Feiluan, thank you for this gift you gave me. Thank you for that whip in your hand, forcing me away from the wrong path in time, when I was unable to harden my heart to end everything.
The surgery lasted for four hours. Cheng Xiu was carrying Linglan, waiting outside the operating theatre the whole time.
At half past two in the afternoon, He An was pushed out of the operating theatre.
His mental state seemed fine, and the wound on his nape was two centimetres long. The stitches were meticulous, and with how thick the threads were, they looked as though they had been drawn on with a brush. If He An were to cover it with his hair, there would be no trace of the surgery seen. When the sedative wore off, He An had a bowl of porridge, half a fresh orange, and even carried Linglan for a while, playing with her. Linglan was like a little kitten, sniffing here and there. As she tried her best to scent what was left of the lilies of the valley fragrance He An still had, her eyebrows raised in puzzlement.
However, in the middle of the night, He An suddenly pressed the call bell.
He had started to vomit, his body feeling heavy and cold. Despite wrapping the blanket around him, he still shivered continuously, and turning up the air conditioning to thirty degrees celsius was useless too. The chill seemed to be seeping out straight from his blood and bones. At six in the morning, his head started to hurt, the pain triggered by light and sound. Even the tiniest sliver of light through a crack in the curtains, or the chirping of a bird, could make him wail in pain. Cheng Xiu could only pull the curtains tight, making sure the room was in complete darkness and silence.
In the next few days, he could not even keep a single grain of rice down, or drink a mouthful of water. Bottles and bottles of nutrient solution were transfused into his veins, and only then could he just about keep his body system going. He An could not even turn over, as the slightest movement would cause an intense headache.
For the gland replacement surgery, the most painful part was not the surgical process, but the period after the surgery; when one’s pheromones were in fluctuating chaos.
The foreign Type 3 Omega pheromones seized hold of every single drop of blood, exterminating the original lilies of the valley scent. They were very aggressive, and all of He An’s organs expressed fierce rejection towards them. He An’s body was as though a fallen city, battles and fights occurring everywhere. His temperature rose uncontrollably to forty degrees celsius, and he lost his senses of taste and smell. There were even a few days, where he felt as though he had lost all methods of communication with the entire world, his soul huddling within his burning body, falling into an unceasing struggle. His familiar past self, inch by inch, was nibbled away, and then, inch by inch, reconstructed.
A week later, when the replacement pheromones became more stable, his situation finally turned slightly better.
He An had lost a lot of weight, and he appeared exhausted. He told Cheng Xiu that he wanted to see Linglan, and so Cheng Xiu brought her to him. However, the moment Linglan saw him, she started bawling, refusing with all her might to be carried by him.
The young infant still had yet to be able to recognise her father’s appearance, solely relying on his scent. Now that He An had changed his pheromones, Linglan naturally saw him as a stranger. She was frightened into crying continuously, warm tears and snot smearing all over her face. The more He An coaxed her, the louder she cried. When he wanted to try feeding her like before, Linglan pursed her lips tight, not even wanting to come close to him, and she would rather hold on to a cold, empty bottle, suckling it.
A few days ago, when the clashing of the pheromones was at its height, He An was in immense pain, but he still endured it, and not a single tear fell. Now, faced with a Linglan who did not recognise him, his eyes reddened, as he felt very anxious.
Hearing this, the main surgeon gave him a dark red glass perfume bottle.
It was an extract of He An’s original pheromones.
Before the surgery, the main surgeon had flipped through He An’s data, discovering that he had just given birth. Speculating that the replacement of his pheromones might cause an issue in the bond between the father and the child, he extracted one millimetre of concentrated pheromones from He An’s gland, before adding saline to dilute it, in case of any emergency need in the future. It was this tiny bottle of extract, less than thirty milimetres, that He An relied on. He would spray a bit on his body everyday, finally managing to pass through this tough period with much difficulty, allowing Linglan to become familiar with his new scent.
The day He An recovered and was discharged, Cheng Xiu came with many bags, including four suitcases to pick He An up — their next stop was not home, but Yuanjiang Airport.
According to the agreement, He An only had one chance to hide. If he was found by Zheng Feiluan, he would have to leave Yuanjiang.
That home of his, he was no longer able to return.
As for Cheng Xiu, the day after Linglan was born, he had lost his job, becoming a glorious unemployed citizen. As a personal assistant who had been personally fired by the boss of Jiusheng, he naturally understood that it would be hard for him to continue working in Yuanjiang. As such, he also bought an air ticket to Mt. Luotan in the south, accompanying He An and Linglan in getting out of this place.
Dressed in a woollen coat along with a furry scarf, He An walked out of the doors of the hospital. Linglan was sleeping in his arms, her little face flushed, looking just like a ripe peach.
Chinese New Year had just been over, and the main colour scheme of the decorations along the street was red. Valentine’s Day was creeping closer, and shop fronts were starting to be decorated with dazzling red roses, while baskets of blooming roses were already hung up on wooden frames. Below them, the streets were crowded with people, and the atmosphere was bustling with extraordinary liveliness.
He An looked at the crowd, looking a little startled.
Cheng Xiu asked him, “What’s wrong?”
He An faltered, before falling silent.
He seemed to have… smelled the scent of love.
It was sweet, it was bitter, it was passion, it was warmth… All sorts of pheromones, mingling with a thick layer of love wafted through the surroundings, as though one was standing in a bakery. The scent of freshly baked goods was intoxicating, and sniffing deeply at it, one could even distinguish the scent of caramel, cheese, milk, and strawberries.
After twenty over years, this was the first time he was experiencing an actual interaction of pheromones.
Every passerby’s appearance was more alive than before, their bearing more joyful than before. Like a faded, old painting that had bright colours again added to it, their true images were revealed.
A handsome Alpha walked past them, giving He An a friendly smile. Nervous, He An smiled back stiffly
He felt that his smile was too ugly, but the eyes of the Alpha curved, even praising him, “You’re really cute.”
He An immediately reddened.
Before today, he had never dared imagine that such an interaction would ever happen to him — his rare pheromone type had obstructed any emotional communication. People around him could not perceive him, and he also could not perceive them. He lived in a dry, withered world, and love was a tender sprout wrapped in film. It never wilted or rotted, but there was no chance for it to bloom either.
Hence, Zheng Feiluan had become his light.
A compatibility rating of 100%, had caused all the light in the world to gather onto Zheng Feiluan alone. He was the only dazzling colour in a black and white photo, and He An was unable to pull his eyes away from him. He dared not even imagine how a world where he lost him would be like.
However, now, that light had started to spread all over, gradually dispersing the pent-up darkness.
In the light, countless beautiful emotions danced in front of him.
Only then did He An understood, Zheng Feiluan was not the one and only. At most, amongst Alphas, he was just one who had achievements in his career, along with his good looks. He was still one of them ordinary beings, that was all. He even did not need to deliberately “let go” of Zheng Feiluan, as this man that had once bound his heart was gradually fading away under the impact of this boundless universe.
Life should be like this, should it not?
He would be an ordinary Omega, not seeking a partner above himself, nor lower himself. Like that little round-faced Omega who ran a restaurant, he would meet an equally ordinary Alpha in a social circle that belonged to him. They would live together in placid happiness, raising Linglan together.
“No, it’s nothing. I’m fine… I’m very surprised, and I’m very happy too.”
He An’s brows quirked up, giving Cheng Xiu an incandescent smile.
Cheng Xiu flagged down a taxi, neatly packing their luggage into it. He then opened the door to the backseat, deftly installing a child safety seat. He An turned his head, glancing at the towering hospital building. He pressed a kiss on Linglan’s plump cheek, bending down and entering the car, taking his first step towards this journey to Mt. Luotan.