Edited by Beth
Chuncao and Guo Weixiang obliviously ate the chocolate and midway through, Miss Wu Xinyan, who wasn’t afraid of damaging her figure, also came over to share it too.
When Si Nan woke up that afternoon- yawning- he seemed to have forgotten everything that had happened before. Stretching, he asked out of nowhere, “Where is everyone?”
“They’ve gone to look for supplies,” Wu Xinyan replied while washing clothes. “Captain Zhou led a group of over ten people, but when he saw you were sleeping, he didn’t want to wake you.”
“Probably because I’m not part of his 118,” Si Nan shot coldly.
Wu Xinyan laughed, “He only scolded you a little, why do you bear such a deep grudge?”
Zhou Rong and the group had left in one vehicle, and the other one was parked by the river. The clouds had been very low and heavy last night, but today’s weather was surprisingly fine. The sunlight scattered across the surface of the water, and its reflection glimmered in gold.
Done washing, Wu Xinyan hung the laundry. A short distance away, the people in charge of tidying up got to work and those in charge of preparing food cooked. It was a rare moment of harmony amidst the apocalypse.
Si Nan climbed down from the vehicle and stretched his body. He breathed in deeply, breathing in the cool early winter’s air. In his surroundings behind him, he saw Dr. Zheng examining Yan Hao’s injuries while an older lady was carrying a baby while boiling water to prepare milk– there was no need to mention that the full cup was for the injured, and the half cup was for the baby.
From afar, Si Nan looked at the packet of milk powder that he himself had not had the time to open. He felt rather disconsolate knowing that from then on, he would never again get the opportunity to touch any milk products.
Wu Xinyan was done hanging the laundry, and carried the cup of milk over to Yan Hao. With Dr. Zheng, they squatted by the side of the bedroll, discussing something. After awhile, Dr. Zheng stood up and left, and she continued speaking with Yan Hao for a little longer, covering her mouth with the back of her hand as she laughed.
Si Nan shook his head, massaging his aching neck as he gave an old man’s sigh.
At that moment, Dr. Zheng returned with a crutch made from a tree branch, motioning for Yan Hao to take a couple of steps forward while using it. Yan Hao sat up, grimacing in pain, but Dr. Zheng alone was unable to help him up. Wu Xinyan wanted to assist, but was stopped by Dr. Zheng. After eyeing the surroundings, he waved at Si Nan. “Comrade Xiao Si, come and give us a hand!”
Massaging the back of his neck, Si Nan made his way over. Before he even got close, he saw Yan Hao smiling at him.
Si Nan tested the splint on his chest. “Would the bones shift if he starts walking now?”
Yan Hao called out quietly, “Si Nan.”
Dr. Zheng answered, “They won’t. The bones have already joined together. This sort of clean break, the Alphas can handle it themselves.”
Si Nan didn’t want to go into the river for a bath, and the women would almost definitely not allow him to mess with the cooking. So with nothing better to do, he obediently held onto Yan Hao’s right arm; and with Dr. Zheng they supported Yan Hao in walking slowly.
Wild grass covered the land, with rays of the setting sun spreading across the ground. The cities far off in the distance appeared to be melting into the golden waters, with the scenery being washed in red and gold. Si Nan was originally not the one to initiate conversation, so while they walked Dr. Zheng reminded Yan Hao to use boiled water to clean his wounds. A short while later, the two fell into silence, and Yan Hao coughed slightly.
“… Si Nan.”
“Back then..” Yan Hao paused, feelings complicated, before shortly continuing hoarsely. “I believe I heard you say that Yingjie had survived, but at that time I was on the brink of consciousness, so I’m not sure if I heard right…”
“I lied,” Si Nan answered quietly.
Yan Hao sighed. “It’s alright.”
After a few moments of silence, Yan Hao seemed to be struggling with his thoughts, before stumbling over his words. “Was it then that you… discovered that we were Alphas?”
Dr. Zheng was initially not paying attention, but he quickly realised what was happening and the corners of his lips twitched a few times.
Si Nan froze. “… Oh.”
He looked up at Yan Hao, and unexpectedly met his eyes.
With the glimmering gold reflection from the surface of the river, there seemed to be a sort of warmth in Yan Hao’s eyes that gave Si Nan a sense of deja vu — when the two teams split in B Military Zone, and Yan Hao had came over to hug him tightly, there was also this warmth in Yan Hao’s eyes that he dared not express at that time.
Si Nan lowered his head, thinking. His brows knitted slightly, the same crease which had been present on his forehead since a long time ago, deepened further.
Yan Hao kept track of the subtle changes in Si Nan’s expression, and he probably understood them. Immediately, he spoke. “There’s something that I’ve been wanting to say to you. At that time…”
He did not expect that Si Nan would interrupt him tactfully. “There’s something I have to do. Is it ok if I get that lady to help you?”
Si Nan let go, only to have Yan Hao grab him the next moment.
The two turned their heads simultaneously, and Dr. Zheng had a very proper expression on his face. “Uhh, the baby’s crying over there. I’m going to go take a look, and I’ll call you guys over when it’s dinnertime!”
Si Nan thought, what does that baby crying got to do with you? For every four hours the baby’s awake, she’s crying for three and a half hours. It’s not like you can make her stop crying—
Before he could stop him, Dr. Zheng had fled into the distance.
Yan Hao felt a little awkward. “Will you still listen to what I have to say?”
Si Nan scanned his surroundings. Everyone was cooking or washing clothes, and Dr. Zheng had already picked up the baby as though that was his only duty, patting her and coaxing her. No one seemed to have any intentions of coming over.
“…” Si Nan sighed. “I’m listening.”
They sat down by the riverside. Around Yan Hao’s chest was a medical wrap, so his sitting position was a little strange. Si Nan then gathered up the grass next to him into a sort of pillow, tucking it behind Yan Hao’s back, so as to allow him to sit more comfortably.
“I had already wanted to say this to you back in T City, but everyone thought you had been bitten by a zombie so it was chaotic. After that, the helicopter crashed onto the roof.. then we came to the factory and I heard that you look down on Alphas.. so I dared not even mention it anymore.”
Yan Hao paused, bowing his head and staring at his hands, speaking quietly. “I know that there are some extremely outstanding Betas who would look down on Alphas, thinking that they’re chauvinistic or something. However, our team is not like that.. and I— I’m not either. I’ve always respected you very much, especially when you saved my life twice. And if we count the time when you found the antibodies back in the base, and injected them into me, it will be three times.”
Si Nan shook his head. “That sort of situation should not be counted.”
“Then the previous two still count.”
“The previous two times were only a happenstance…”
“There’s no need for us to argue over this,” Yan Hao cut him off decisively, yet gently. “In this apocalypse, each and every day is filled with crises everywhere. No one would risk their life for a ‘happenstance’. You can treat it as though they didn’t matter, but I definitely have to be grateful for them. This is a matter of our own standpoints.”
Yan Hao was very clearly different from Zhou Rong — ever since Zhou Rong’s Alpha identity had been exposed, he no longer had any scruples about it. Often, he would make others feel his extremely unyielding and dominant aura, and during confrontations, he would even make the other feel a trace of being oppressed. However, there did not seem to be much changes with Yan Hao. His temperament was still very mild, and even if he felt a little bit impatient, it would soon pass.
Si Nan looked at him. Ever since they left B Military Zone, the doubt that had left his heart shaken countless times again came to his mind.
Should I take this opportunity and just ask him?
… But it was rather awkward. What if these two Alphas really had such an astounding relationship?
Just as he was pondering over it, he heard Yan Hao continue. “There’s a question that I wanted to ask you only after considering it carefully over a period of time… but in this apocalypse, we might die at any moment. Closing my eyes at night, I don’t even know if I’ll still be able to see the next morning’s sun. If I never get the opportunity to speak my mind, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life.”
Yan Hao raised his hand slowly, placing it on the back of Si Nan’s hand. That action was very gentle, but Si Nan could still feel the rough calluses and old, faint scars on his palm.
“I just want to know…”
Si Nan’s facial muscles were a little stiff. He watched at Yan Hao drew slightly closer, and his gaze was extremely, extremely focused and solemn. “Having interacted with each other during this period of time, what do you think about…”
An uproar occurred abruptly a distance away, and everyone was alarmed.
The two people fell silent, turning to look in the direction of the noise. Si Nan lifted his gun, aiming at the road—
However, it was not the sneak attack of zombies, but their own armoured vehicle and a tour bus parked by the entrance gate. Zhou Rong leapt out of the driver’s seat, dragging Guo Weixiang down from the passenger seat, and raised a foot to his chest— kicking him!
“Scram! Go over there!” Zhou Rong’s roar was very clear despite the distance “What a disgrace! Scram! Don’t come over!”
“I was wrong, alright…”
“Get lost! What an abomination!”
Zhou Rong was evidently filled with fury, completely different from how his anger had ceased when scolding Chuncao that morning. After a few kicks, he left Guo Weixiang scrambling and tumbling away while almost vomiting blood. It was Dr. Zheng, who was afraid that Zhou Rong’s anger would create another patient for him, who went over and tried to persuade him to stop, signalling for the gloomy Guo Weixiang to escape.
“Don’t let me see you, you bastard—”
Zhou Rong wanted to go up and give him a few more kicks. A few people flew down from the tour bus, and finally held him back.
Yan Hao had Si Nan help him to walk over slowly. But just as they reached the middle of the camp, they saw many more people getting off the tour bus. Among them was a sheepish-looking youth; estimated to be around sixteen or seventeen. His appearance was delicate and not very tall. A bandage was wrapped around his forehead with a faint stain of blood.
Si Nan froze in his steps.
“What’s wrong?” Yan Hao asked receptively.
“…” Si Nan replied quietly, “There’s an Omega.”
“I’m not hitting him.”
“I’m really not hitting him.”
“I just couldn’t control my temper for one moment… I swear I’m not going to hit him!”
It took a lot of effort for Zhou Rong to convince the anxious crowd. Wearily, he stepped away from them. Asking Dr. Zheng to lead some people to update their inventory as well as to give the new batch of survivors a physical examination. Zhou Rong then twisted a bottle of water open. He was extremely thirsty; a bead of water trickled down his chin and rolled down his sinewy neck. After rage-drinking half of the bottle, only then did he wipe his mouth satisfied.
“Yo, Comrade Yan Hao!” Zhou Rong exhaled, studying that crutch in Yan Hao’s hand with narrowed eyes. “What are you doing? You’re not resting properly, but dragging my family’s Comrade Xiao Si around for a spin?”
Yan Hao was unamused. “Who is your family’s Comrade Xiao Si? He may actually be my family’s.”
Zhou Rong tutted. “Running amuck now, are you? Just let Si Xiaonan tell you which family he’s from. Didn’t Da Ding convey my parting message to you yesterday?”
Si Nan, “…”
Under two intense pairs of eyes, Si Nan pointed with his thumb towards a spot not too far from them. Guo Weixiang was squatting there with his head down, pulling at the grass. “What did he do?”
Actually, when they saw the young Omega, everyone had a vague suspicion. As expected, Zhou Rong’s answer did not surprise the two of them.
“That,” he pointed at the youth huddled by the side of the tour bus, stating solemnly, “is the species that I least want to interact with in my life, the species that I’m most afraid to meet especially when running for my life, an Omega.”
Si Nan was expressionless.
Yan Hao immediately spoke up. “Don’t say things like this, Captain. The two of you are rather compatible. How nice, for a hero rescuing a beauty.”
“But I already have Comrade Xiao Si. While clearing out the supermarket, we bumped into this group of people. They’re survivors who hid in a warehouse when the virus broke out. Due to their abundant supplies, they had been eating and drinking well everyday, and they even have self-heating instant noodles. Do you know those kind of instant noodles where all you have to do is pull a string and they’ll cook by themselves? When we went in to rescue them, they happened to be having dinner. There was a pot of steaming hot Kang Shi Fu pickled vegetable and beef flavoured ramen accompanied with sliced ham sausages…”
Both Si Nan and Yan Hao swallowed a mouthful of drool at the same time.
“What sort of expression is that on your faces? We really went in to rescue them,” Zhou Rong was upset. “Also, they were very eager to leave with us. You two didn’t see the situation then, it was like the workers joining the Red Army leading to the successful Long March… or maybe it was like Comrade Xiao Si’s General Washington successfully crossing the Delaware River, but this is not the main point.”
“The main point is, among the survivors is an Omega.” Zhou Rong sighed deeply, looking exhausted. “During the transfer, this child was chased by zombies, and he hit his head on a shelf, bleeding heavily. The smell of the pheromones was truly something. At that time, I was standing guard outside. It was only a few minutes, and Comrade Guo Weixiang nearly committed an offence that would require him to be executed by a gun squad…”
Nearby, the youth was tilting his head towards them, seemingly wanting to know what they were discussing. However, he looked very timid.
“Don’t come here! Scram, go further away!” From the corner of his eye, Zhou Rong saw that Guo Weixiang seemed to want to come closer, and immediately yelled at him.
Guo Weixiang drooped, having no choice but to continue plucking at the grass.
Zhou Rong snorted heavily, traces of his anger still evident.
“The scent of this child’s pheromones is extremely thick. He’s already sexually mature, and is about to enter his heat for the first time. We have to bring him with us, but sooner or later, even if he stops bleeding his heat pheromones will spread out over 5 kilometres and attract a hoard of zombies. Everyone will be at risk.”
“We can either depart immediately in order to find him suppressants, or we can let him experience his heat and deftly settle everything.” Zhou Rong patted Yan Hao’s shoulder, speaking warmly, “The organisation has deliberated this prudently, and they’ve decided to give you this chance of escaping singlehood.”
Yan Hao immediately fell two steps back, as though there was wind under his feet. That nimble action made him seem like a completely different person from the feeble patient Si Nan had been supporting. “No, no, Captain, Rong-ge! You’re the boss, it’s for the best if you handle this personally.”