The atmosphere in the room seemed to stagnate.

After Ming Luchuan spoke, his expression thawed minutely.
He sat on the sofa with his back straight, eyes on Xia Wennan.

Xia Wennan was still processing his words.
“You’re lying to me, aren’t you?” he said.

“Why would I lie to you,” said Ming Luchuan.

No one would ever lie about such a thing—Xia Wennan shortly realised after his knee-jerk denial.
He curled his legs, lowered his head, and pressed his forehead to his knees.
The news of his grandpa’s death arrived without warning, hitting him completely unprepared, and moments passed before his sorrow overshadowed his fear.

Xia Wennan lifted the covers to get down from the bed, wanting no more than to go back home and see whether his grandpa was still alive in person, but before he could, tears streamed down his face unbidden.

He wept soundlessly, his head buried, not wanting to be seen by Ming Luchuan.

Yet between one second and the next, Ming Luchuan had already walked up to the bed and lightly touched his back.
Though the Alpha’s demeanour had an unchanging indifference, his palm was a warm weight through the thin hospital gown on Xia Wennan’s back.

At this point in time, Xia Wennan was in no mood to avoid him.
His eyes were open but his mind was filled with nothing but his grandpa.
On the winter vacation of his second year of university, Xia Wennan had gotten a part time job, and he’d only rushed home right before the New Year.
At the time, he’d always thought he’d be able to see his grandpa as long as he went home anyway.
And yet unexpectedly, he’d been informed of his grandpa’s death the moment he awoke from a car accident.

It wasn’t until Xia Wennan registered Ming Luchuan’s palm on his bony, emaciated shoulderblades did he slightly recover his senses and turn to the side, visibly avoiding his touch.

Ming Luchuan’s palm met empty air.
He stared at Xia Wennan for a moment then silently retracted his hand.

To fill the awkward silence, Xia Wennan said, “Thank you.
I’m fine.”

Ming Luchuan turned and walked to the doorway.
He grabbed his coat that had been draped over the back of the sofa during lunch and coldly said, “Something came up at the company.
I have to get going.”

“Oh,” said Xia Wennan.
As he watched Ming Luchuan head out, something occurred to him and he hurriedly shouted, “Hey!”

Ming Luchuan stopped in his tracks and turned to look at Xia Wennan, his jaw slightly raised.
His face was almost blank of emotion.

Xia Wennan could only ask cautiously, “Have you seen my phone?”

Ming Luchuan said, “It broke.”

“It broke?”

“In your car accident.” Ming Luchuan’s grip remained on the door handle for a few seconds.
Upon seeing that Xia Wennan had nothing else to say, he immediately stepped out of the room.

That afternoon, Lin Shuqiu came by to accompany Xia Wennan for a while.

Xia Wennan seemed down.
After listening to Lin Shuqiu’s remarks about his condition, he suddenly asked, “Do you know how my grandpa’s been doing?”

Xia Wennan had no parents.
His grandpa had been the one to raise him since he was a child.
Most of his senior high school classmates were aware of this, but too many years had passed, and Xia Wennan’s question stumped Lin Shuqiu.
“I don’t,” he said.
“We didn’t keep in touch after graduation.
I only met you again because you were hospitalised.”

“From this car accident?”

Lin Shuqiu nodded.

“Was I the one behind the wheel?”

Lin Shuqiu thought for a bit.
“You ought to be.
I’m not too clear on the details either.”

“Was anyone else in the car with me?”

This time, Lin Shuqiu shook his head.
“I’m not sure.
Why don’t you ask Mr.

Xia Wennan recalled Ming Luchuan’s icy face and said, “He’s kind of… intense.”

Lin Shuqiu was silent for a moment before agreeing, “He is a bit scary.”

Xia Wennan raised a hand to clutch at his hair yet swiftly retracted it just a second before he bumped the injured part of his head.
“I can’t stay here,” he said.
“I have to go home.”

Lin Shuqiu got to his feet.
“You can’t leave the hospital yet.”

Xia Wennan raised his head to look at him.
“I want to know what happened to my grandpa.”

“What happened?” Lin Shuqiu had reached his bedside by now, and he stopped Xia Wennan, who already had one foot out of the bed, from moving any further.

Xia Wennan looked up at him.
“Ming Luchuan said that my grandpa is dead.”

Lin Shuqiu was stunned into silence.

Xia Wennan looked a bit dazed.
“I can’t find my phone, and I don’t know who to ask about my grandpa either.”

“Why don’t I ask around for you,” Lin Shuqiu said.
“Don’t panic.
I’ll tell you right away if I hear anything.”

Lin Shuqiu exited the room to make a call.
Before he got off his shift that afternoon, he brought Xia Wennan news confirming his grandpa’s death.

Xia Wennan sat on the bed dazedly.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Lin Shuqiu consoled him.

Xia Wennan nodded.
“It’s just—I just can’t accept it, that’s all.” He’d known, already, of the outcome—and yet he still carried a sliver of hope.
Until now, he couldn’t reconcile himself to the loss.

His spirits plummeted.
When the hospital worker came by with his dinner, he merely glanced at it motionlessly.
When he was left alone in the room, he slowly got out of bed and walked towards the window.

The evening sun was as glaringly bright as before, penetrating through the glass window and cast onto the ground.
Yet the searing sunlight rapidly dimmed, and the slice of light on the floor gradually moved across the room until the last trace of crimson disappeared from Xia Wennan’s vision.

The sky turned a deep gray-blue, with only a thread of red remaining in the distant horizon that would soon vanish completely.

There was a flower garden downstairs.
It was small in size, but colourful flowers bloomed in abundance.
After the sunlight withdrew, the flower garden was illuminated by tangerine lights, exhibiting a quiet warmth in the midst of the chilly hospital.

Xia Wennan heard the sound of the door opening; he didn’t turn his head, but rather shifted and leaned against the window, letting it prop up his frail body.

The sound of light footsteps came to a halt right behind him.

Xia Wennan had a rough guess on whose it was, but speaking was the last thing on his mind as he remained by the window in a dismal state.

Around ten minutes passed.
From behind him, Ming Luchuan said, “You should rest.” His stiff tone held his usual difference.

Tonight, it looked like Ming Luchuan had no plans of leaving.

Xia Wennan lay on the hospital bed, arms pillowed under his head as he watched Ming Luchuan enter the bathroom to freshen up.

A moment later, Ming Luchuan came out of the bathroom, changed into his pyjamas, then slid a cupboard door open and took out a folding bed.

The bed was positioned right next to Xia Wennan’s.

Ming Luchuan sat down on the edge of the bed, directly facing Xia Wennan, who was half-lying down on his own bed and watching him.
Xia Wennan directed his gaze elsewhere, yet he could still feel Ming Luchuan’s eyes on him moments later.

Thus, after a few beats more, Xia Wennan turned back and darted a look at Ming Luchuan, saying, “What are you staring at me for?”

Ming Luchuan’s countenance remained completely unchanged—his eyelids didn’t even flicker.
“What should I be doing then?”

Xia Wennan slid down while pulling the covers up to his chest.
“How is that my problem,” he mumbled, then closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep.

After what seemed like quite a long time, all the lights were switched off save for a small nightlight.

Xia Wennan heard the creaks of the neighbouring bed.
Ming Luchuan was probably settling down.
At the same time, he heard Ming Luchuan say, “Then why do you care who I stare at?”

Xia Wennan turned his back to Ming Luchuan, inwardly thinking that this Alpha truly was hard to deal with.

After a night of deep sleep,he was awakened at dawn by the sound of people talking at the doorway.

When he blinked open his eyes and slightly craned his neck, he saw Ming Luchuan’s tall back, wrapped in a white shirt.

Ming Luchuan was talking to someone.
After a while, he angled his body, and Xia Wennan first spotted a large flower bouquet before he caught a glimpse of a young man who’s upper body was almost blocked off by the flowers.

It was an unfamiliar Omega.

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