Sunset Boulevard - Chap 15
Ai Jiaxi came back with a huge cup of mango smoothie within a few minutes of going out.
He sat next to Zhang Jue, took a sip, waved his hand holding the change, and said to Zhang Jue with the smoothie in his mouth, “A-Jue, you can have them back.”
“Put them in your pocket.” Zhang Jue did not want the coins.
“Okay,” Ai Jiaxi obediently stuffed it into his pocket, and held the smoothie up to Zhang Jue’s mouth, and said, “Try it, it’s very famous.”
As soon as the cup got close to his face, he could smell the strong aroma of mango. Zhang Jue did not like mango much, so he moved his face away and declined, “Eat it yourself.”
Ai Jiaxi shrugged and took the cup back. He sucked on the straw, looking at the dishes on the table, stared for a few seconds. He suddenly put down the cup, turned his head and asked Zhang Jue, “I thought you didn’t like shrimp?”
He pointed to Zhang Jue’s plate and said, “Why did you eat my last shrimp!”
Before Zhang Jue could think about how to explain it, Chen Boqiao honestly admitted his mistake to Ai Jiaxi, “I ate it.”
Ai Jiaxi glanced at Chen Boqiao’s plate, Zhang Jue followed, and there was no shrimp shell on Chen Boqiao’s plate.
Then Ai Jiaxi turned his head to look at Zhang Jue, and slowly said, “Ohhh,” he said, “So that’s how it is.” He didn’t pick the cup of smoothie back up, and put his head on Zhang Jue’s shoulder, looking upset.
Ai Jiaxi had been spoiled by his whole family since young, and Zhang Jue had always protected him and given him all the things he liked. When Zhang Jue thought about it, this may actually be the first time he didn’t leave Ai Jiaxi’s favorite until the end.
But after all, it was Chen Boqiao who ate the shrimp. Ai Jiaxi didn’t dare to make his unhappiness clear, just stared at him with accusing eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Chen Boqiao probably had never encountered this kind of thing before, and said to Ai Jiaxi in embarrassment, “do you want to order another one?”
“No, it’s okay” Ai Jiaxi shook his head and said to Zhang Jue, “walk with me back to the hotel.”
Ai Jiaxi claimed that he was too full and wanted to take a stroll back to the hotel.
Zhang Jue was familiar with the area. He did not need to look at the map to know that the hotel was about ten minutes’ walking distance from the cafe. He asked Chen Boqiao, “Can you wait for me here for half an hour?”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and Ai Jiaxi, whose head was resting on Zhang Jue’s shoulders, and he paused for a moment before replying, “I’m not tired, let’s walk around together.”
The three of them left the cafe and walked side by side along the sidewalk.
Zhang Jue held Ai Jiaxi’s cup because Ai Jiaxi said that it was too cold, so Zhang Jue will hold it for him, and he just needs to lean over to drink.
Chen Boqiao walked quietly beside Zhang Jue as if he hadn’t seen their interaction. He was on the side of the pavement closer to the road, farther away from Zhang Jue than Ai Jiaxi was, but closer to him than how friends would normally be.
Although Ai Jiaxi had always been spoiled by Zhang Jue, he was usually not so coquettish. He walked next to Zhang Jue, whispering about people and happenings that only he and Zhang Jue were familiar with, making Zhang Jue feel like he was showing off his closeness to Zhang Jue to scare off Chen Boqiao with his demonstration.
Zhang Jue thought that he was not a patient person, and as many people said, he was withdrawn and cold, not inclined nor good at communicating or socializing, and had never been popular.
But Ai Jiaxi blindly defended his shortcomings like Zhang Jue’s parents. Even if Zhang Jue was not good, they insist on saying that Zhang Jue was the absolute best, and Ai Jiaxi’s personality was very much like a child. He would be petulantly upset because “how could that Chen Boqiao guy not like Zhang Jue” and would lose his temper because Zhang Jue paid too much attention to things related to Chen Boqiao.
A few years ago, Ai Jiaxi would find someone from the Asian League to bring tabloid articles about Chen Boqiao’s romance or love life, pretending to accidentally bring it to Zhang Jue and show it to him.
In fact, those were all untrustworthy gossip tabloids that did not even provide any evidence of the things they claim. The traces of photos being edited were so heavy that Zhang Jue could not bear to look closely, but Ai Jiaxi took it very seriously, so Zhang Jue had to lie and say that he also believed the tabloid.
It was only in the past two years that Ai Jiaxi gradually realized that Zhang Jue was so stubborn that he finally stopped making unnecessary attempts.
Ai Jiaxi took another sip from Zhang Jue’s hand. Zhang Jue’s right hand also felt a bit cold from the smoothie, so he held the cup in his other hand and put his right hand down, brushing against the back of Chen Boqiao’s hand.
Chen Boqiao glanced at Zhang Jue, and then quickly touched Zhang Jue’s palm. Zhang Jue was stunned for a moment, and heard Chen Boqiao say softly, “It’s really cold.”
He pointed to Zhang Jue’s left hand. Zhang Jue figured out that Chen Boqiao was talking about the cup.
Zhang Jue nodded, and Chen Boqiao asked again, “Do you want me to hold it for you?”
“No!” Ai Jiaxi said.
Zhang Jue looked at Ai Jiaxi, and Ai Jiaxi finished with a displeased expression. He might have realised that her tone was too rude, so he added to Chen Boqiao, “Thank you, A-Jue can just help me hold it.”
The more he talked, the smaller his voice became. Zhang Jue felt amused, so he gave a noncommittal “hm” and fed the ice to Ai Jiaxi.
Chen Boqiao didn’t say anything.
When the trio passed by a crossroad, Zhang Jue saw the building that he will never be able to forget.
Several workers at the building’s entrance were taking off the metal signs as if they were going to replace them with new ones.
“Wasn’t this…” Ai Jiaxi stopped, looked at the building, then looked up at Zhang Jue, and whispered, “Why are they changing the name?”
Zhang Jue glanced a few times before saying, “I don’t know.”
The last time he came for an inspection, there were a lot of patients in the hospital, and they didn’t seem to have any problems. At that time, the doctor even asked him if he wanted another treatment program. He had already begun to prepare for the plan in Asian League, so he refused it without much consideration.
Ai Jiaxi didn’t move. He turned his head, looked at Zhang Jue with wide eyes and asked, “Is your treatment over?”
Based on what Zhangjue knew about Ai Jiaxi, he knew that the omega knew he did not want to talk about it here, and deliberately asked it despite that.
Chen Boqiao stood with them and looked across the street without interrupting.
Seeing Zhang Jue nod, Ai Jiaxi asked again, “Is it working, did it hurt?” His eyes wandered, and then said innocently, “It’s because I have a friend who wants to do it, and they are looking for people who have done it already to ask about the treatment.”
Zhang Jue raised his hand and patted Ai Jiaxi’s head before he said, “It’s useless.”
“Did it hurt?” Ai Jiaxi asked persistently.
Zhang Jue could feel Chen Boqiao’s probing eyes staying on him and boring into him.
The sultry evening breeze from the coast slowly rolls across the entire street, making Zhang Jue recall every time he walked from the hotel where Ai Jiaxi was staying now to this hospital.
He remembered that Harrison called him one day and told him, “There is a well-known emotion-sealing therapy clinic in Bangkok, it has opened six branches globally, and each one has a schedule packed until next year. The chairman gave me an appointment reservation for free. Do you want to come and try.”
He remembered the first time his main physician met him and showed him successful cases.
He remembered wondering if he made another unnecessary decision when the doctor covered his face with an anesthesia mask.
It turns out that it was really redundant and useless.
“A-Jue!” Ai Jiaxi called him again.
Zhang Jue hated telling other people about his sufferings, so he closed his mouth tightly, and without a word, he grabbed Ai Jiaxi’s shoulder and walked forward.
For the next part of their stroll, Ai Jiaxi was quiet. He got the cup from Zhang Jue’s hand and held it himself.
The three of them walked with each other, each deep in thought, and after walking the remaining part of the street, they walked to the hotel gate.
Zhang Jue was worried about the camera capturing Chen Boqiao. He wanted Chen Boqiao to wait while he sent Ai Jiaxi in by himself, but Ai Jiaxi didn’t let him. He responsibly told Zhang Jue that he’ll see him again when he returned to NIS and walked into the revolving door.
Zhang Jue and Chen Boqiao wanted to go back to the cafe to get the car, so they walked back in the direction they came from. Passers-by hurried past them, while the two were walking slowly.
Not long after, Chen Boqiao quickly squeezed Zhang Jue’s palm again, and then stood still, looking at Zhang Jue. He said, “It’s so cold, how could you hold it for so long?”
“The smoothie shop is across from the cafe,” he said casually, “I see other people using the free cup holders.”
“He didn’t do it on purpose,” Zhang Jue defended Ai Jiaxi, “he has been careless since he was young.”
“Really?” Chen Boqiao smiled slightly and let go of Zhang Jue’s hand, but still did not seem like he was going to let the topic drop.
Zhang Jue felt that Chen Boqiao was a little weird tonight, but he couldn’t tell what was strange, and he didn’t have the energy to think carefully. His heat just ended, so he got fatigued easily. After walking for 20 minutes, his calves were almost numb.
During sex, Chen Boqiao pressed down and into him from above. In the few minutes before they finished, he used a lot of force, hence Zhang Jue’s legs and back were still aching. Just now being with Ai Jiaxi, Zhang Jue had to force himself to be energetic. After watching Ai Jiaxi enter the door, the gears in his head seemed to stop turning, and his thoughts became sluggish.
“Can we go back first,” Zhang Jue tugged Chen Boqiao’s sleeve and said in a low voice, “I’m really tired.”
The smile on Chen Boqiao’s face faded a bit, he paused, and asked Zhang Jue, “Are you feeling unwell?”
Zhang Jue nodded.
Chen Boqiao watched Zhang Jue for a while, and made Zhang Jue sit on a bench by the roadside. He took Zhang Jue’s keys, and went to fetch the car from the cafe.
Zhang Jue sat and waited for a while, and he felt that it must be very comfortable to lie down on the bench, so he did just that, and unexpectedly fell asleep.
He had a dream in grayscale. There was no one in the dream. He was lying on the hospital bed, wearing an anesthesia mask, and Chen Boqiao’s voice could be heard in his ear.
Chen Boqiao asked him, “Zhang Jue, what are you treating?”
Zhang Jue closed his eyes and did not speak, and the bed he was lying on started shaking. It was shaking vigorously that he opened his eyes and saw the real Chen Boqiao frowning worriedly.
Upon making eye contact with Zhang Jue, Chen Boqiao’s expression was relaxed.
“You’re this tired?”
Chen Boqiao took Zhang Jue’s wrist, half-carried Zhang Jue and got Zhang Jue onto the passenger seat. He buckled the seat belt for him before going back to drive.
The windows of the car were a little open, and the hot air outside was mixed with the air-conditioning inside, which made Zhang Jue less groggy, but not sober yet.
He sat and turned his head to the side, carefully looking at Chen Boqiao’s profile, and couldn’t help but reach out to adjust the fake beard he put on Chen Boqiao’s face, and whispered, “It’s crooked.”
Chen Boqiao glanced at him quickly, and with a smile in his eyes, raised his hand to hold down the back of Zhang Jue’s hand.
“Oh, help me fix it then?”
“How am I gonna do it now?” Zhang Jue asked in a low voice.
“You can come closer.” Chen Boqiao said again.
Zhang jue lacked the ability to refuse Chen Boqiao anything, so he leaned over, supporting himself on Chen Boqiao’s shoulder with one hand, peeled off a little beard with the other, and pulled it upward.
Before it could be fully pasted, Chen Boqiao seemed to have lost his concentration and forgotten to look at the traffic lights. As he approached the line, he suddenly stepped on the brake and stopped in front of the yellow light.
Zhang Jue’s whole body moved forward from the inertia, and Chen Boqiao released a hand from the steering wheel to grab Zhang Jue’s arm and hold Zhang Jue down.
Chen Boqiao cleared his throat and said, “Forget it, we’re almost there anyways.”
The red light at the intersection lasted for seventy-five seconds, Zhang Jue stared at Chen Boqiao’s hand on the gear lever for ten.
Chen Boqiao spoke. He asked Zhang Jue, “What do you want?”
As if he was encouraging Zhang Jue, Chen Boqiao added, “Tell me about it.”
Zhang Jue was bewitched by Chen Boqiao and told the truth, “I want to hold hands with you.”
Chen Boqiao turned his head and looked at Zhang Jue with a calm look in his eyes. Zhang Jue thought Chen Boqiao would refuse, but Chen Boqiao did not speak and only slightly twitched his mouth. Zhang Jue didn’t know if Chen Boqiao was laughing at him for being stupid again, or something else entirely. Afterwards, Chen Boqiao lifted his hand from the gear lever a bit.
Zhang Jue watched for five seconds before thinking about it. He realized that this could be Chen Boqiao’s way of making space for him to hold his hand, so he inched his hand up slowly, interlinking his fingers into the gap between Chen Boqiao’s fingers, and gently held it. .
There were ten seconds before the red light turned green.
Zhang Jue was counting down along with the traffic light, and when the red light turned green, he let go of his hand, lowered his head and said to Chen Boqiao, “Thank you.”