This answer made Lu Ye unconsciously furrow his brows.
He was usually a very cautious person, and because of his profession, he never made mistakes on trivial matters like leaving the door open.
In theory, even if he was coming home after working overtime or even if he had been drinking and was not clear-headed, he shouldn’t have left the door open like that for the whole night.
But Lu Ye had a kind of almost habitual sense of trust in Qi Yanbai, and for a moment, he didn’t think too much about it.
Coupled with the fact that he had indeed been exhausted last night, he couldn’t recall whether he deliberately locked the door or not.
He hesitated for a brief moment, and then that warmth came rushing back like a tide, engulfing him once again.
Lu Ye felt uncomfortable, instinctively pressing his forehead and giving a somewhat embarrassed bitter smile.
“Probably.” Lu Ye casually said, “It could also be because you live across from me, so I subconsciously let my guard down.”
His voice was raspy, and his eyelids drooped slightly, radiating a warmth that seemed almost ready to be melted by his own body temperature.
Qi Yanbai, who had initially felt sorry for him, was oddly delighted by this answer.
He remembered what Lu Ye was like when they first met.
At that time, Lu Ye was cautious, cold and distant, and his eyes were as sharp as if they were tempered with fire.
Even though he tried to act like a helpless and innocent little lamb in front of Lu Ye, sometimes Lu Ye’s almost eerie intuition could still see through Qi Yanbai, making him aware of certain anomalies that were hard for ordinary people to detect.
But despite being cautious and sharp like that, as they spent more and more time together day and night, Lu Ye gradually softened.
His defenses began to lower, and he started revealing a more candid and defenseless side.
He didn’t even have suspicions in the face of such a blatant flaw; instead, he followed Qi Yanbai’s words as if it were only natural.
In his heart, Qi Yanbai realized he had become important to him.
Qi Yanbai couldn’t help but think that Lu Ye had drawn an unconditional circle around himself and had placed Qi Yanbai inside it, treasured and exclusive.
Qi Yanbai felt that he shouldn’t be feeling happy during a time when Lu Ye was feeling unwell, but it was difficult to suppress that feeling.
He couldn’t help but feel excited about this change in Lu Ye.
His excitement couldn’t be controlled; his heart raced and pounded as if the next second it could burst out of his chest and onto Lu Ye’s face.
For a brief moment, Qi Yanbai even heard his own heartbeat like the beating of a drum.
His blood seemed to surge into his limbs and body in an instant, and even his fingertips tingled with a ticklish sensation.
Such excitement was beyond reason.
Qi Yanbai feared that Lu Ye might catch on to something, so he had to lower his gaze, pretending as he pulled the blanket up for Lu Ye.
“If you feel uncomfortable again, just call me,” Qi Yanbai said softly.
“It’s alright.” Lu Ye felt guilty so he pressed his forehead, and reluctantly smiled at Qi Yanbai, propping himself up on the bed, coughing a couple of times, and said with a smile, “I’m much better after getting some sleep—sorry for not being able to watch the movie.
How about I make it up by taking you out for dinner tonight?”
Lu Ye didn’t take his slight fever seriously.
He had a high tolerance for discomfort.
He believed that going outside and getting some fresh air would clear his head.
He thought he could manage to last through a meal.
But obviously, Qi Yanbai couldn’t agree with his thoughts.
When he heard Lu Ye’s words, he was slightly taken aback, and a thin trace of anger almost immediately appeared on his face.
“You want to go out in your situation?” However, even when he was angry, Qi Yanbai was restrained and gentle.
He took a light breath, didn’t say anything hurtful, and just extended his hand to pull the blanket up a bit more, tucking it securely under Lu Ye’s chin.
“Stay at home,” he said, his brows slightly furrowed.
Qi Yanbai got up from the bedside and walked to the wall to adjust the air conditioning’s temperature.
Then, he stepped into the kitchen while wearing Lu Ye’s slippers, heading without looking back.
Lu Ye watched the direction where Qi Yanbai had left for a while, seeing him take off his coat, roll up his sleeves, and carefully open a few cabinet doors in his kitchen.
He took out a small piece of preserved meat from inside.
Now it was evening, but the room’s lighting was dimmer than usual.
The sound of rain pattering outside the window was still present.
Lu Ye reached for his phone from the bedside and saw Qi Yanbai’s seventeen missed calls on the lock screen, along with five or six unanswered WeChat messages.
Lu Ye unlocked the phone and glanced at the messages.
Most of them were during the morning, around the time he had planned to go out with Qi Yanbai.
Later on, when he didn’t reply, Qi Yanbai started calling him, at first with a gap of an hour or two, but once his colleagues got wind that he hadn’t gone to work, the frequency of contact increased dramatically.
This is the first time Lu Ye saw him so anxious.
He reached out and wiped the screen, looking at the WeChat messages, feeling an indescribable sensation.
After a moment, faint sounds came from the kitchen.
Qi Yanbai was finely chopping meat into small pieces, then cautiously placing them into the rice cooker to make porridge.
He wasn’t familiar with Lu Ye’s house and couldn’t find the main light switch in the kitchen.
So, he only turned on a small light connected to the kitchen and dining area’s ceiling.
In this dim light, he was carefully observing the function keys on the rice cooker.
Seeing him struggling, Lu Ye reached out at the bedside, turning on the lights in the kitchen and living room for him.
Qi Yanbai was startled by the sudden brightness.
Instinctively, he turned his head towards Lu Ye.
In that moment of their gazes meeting, Qi Yanbai’s lips seemed to unconsciously curl up, showing a faint, contented smile.
People when ill are always more fragile and sensitive.
Lu Ye felt as if Qi Yanbai’s smile had brushed against him, making his heart flutter for a moment, leaving an unmistakable sensation of affection.
Qi Yanbai was always like this.
No matter when or where, as long as Lu Ye’s gaze catches him, that’s when he wears that smile—pure, joyful, as if just seeing Lu Ye is enough to satisfy him.
In this brief time, the warmth returned to Lu Ye’s body.
He felt as if he had been steamed inside and out by warm air and fever, making him feel drowsy and heavy.
His vision began to blur, yet he didn’t lie back in bed.
He kept his forearm on his forehead, his gaze still fixed on Qi Yanbai’s busy figure.
Soon, the aroma of rice with a hint of saltiness filled the air.
Lu Ye’s Adam’s apple moved as he swallowed, suddenly sensing an unreal and dreamlike feeling in this gentle atmosphere.
The warm air from the air conditioner was strong, and the kitchen’s steam seemed to spread into the living room.
In the light, Qi Yanbai’s figure appeared tall and slender, the white shirt’s color blending with the marble countertop, as if he naturally belonged to this home.
The heavy rain outside continued to pour.
Lu Ye blinked gently.
In this peaceful ambiance, he felt a touch of almost bubble-like happiness.
That feeling was like a thin thread of warm spring water flowing through his veins, surrounding his limbs, leaving a warm and soothing temperature that encircled his heart, gradually filling it.
His previously scattered feelings of liking, gratitude, tenderness, and compassion for Qi Yanbai were suddenly stirred by the warm water, a mix of emotions forming a strong, fervent love.
In that moment, the scales in Lu Ye’s heart tipped fully to one side, leaving no room for doubt.
The rice cooker beeped, signaling that it was done.
Qi Yanbai ladled half a bowl of thin porridge and brought it along with the fever-reducing medicine to the bedroom.
Lu Ye’s body temperature had risen slightly since the afternoon.
Qi Yanbai furrowed his brows slightly, carefully feeding him half a bowl of porridge.
“How about I take you to the hospital?” Qi Yanbai said softly.
“This can’t continue like this.”
Lu Ye’s eyes were slightly red from the fever.
They were also moist, as if covered with a layer of water film.
It took him a couple of seconds to fully understand Qi Yanbai’s words, and upon hearing them, he chuckled lightly and shook his head.
“No need.” He coughed a few times and took the medicine from Qi Yanbai’s hand, swallowing it before continuing, “After taking the medicine, I’ll just sleep it off.”
Qi Yanbai was still a bit worried.
Upon hearing this, he fed Lu Ye half a cup of water and then reached out to touch his forehead.
However, Qi Yanbai had just washed his hands with hot water, so they weren’t the right temperature to gauge.
Frustrated, he simply leaned over, using his cheek to gently touch Lu Ye’s neck.
His movements were delicate, as if afraid of disturbing something.
He left a soft and slightly cool touch, similar to a dragonfly skimming the surface of the water.
Qi Yanbai’s cool breath brushed against Lu Ye’s collarbone, causing his heart to tremble slightly.
Before he could fully understand what was happening, he instinctively reached out, wrapping his arm around Qi Yanbai’s shoulder and back.
Qi Yanbai’s expression froze for a moment, and he softly asked, “What’s wrong?”
Nothing’s wrong, Lu Ye thought.
He simply had an impulsive feeling.
He wanted to boldly tear through the layer of window paper that had long become translucent, fully grasping the person in front of him.
“I—” Lu Ye’s voice came out half-formed, but he couldn’t continue.
He was swept up by a deep and heavy drowsiness.
Qi Yanbai didn’t know what kind of miraculous medicine he had bought, as it took effect so quickly.
In just a matter of moments, Lu Ye felt like his eyelids were engaging in a frenzied battle, his eyes closing heavily like weights had fallen on them.
He didn’t want to hastily confess his feelings in this drowsy state, so his words took a different direction, becoming another sentence.
“I’m too sleepy.” Lu Ye said softly, “… I’ll sleep first, and when I wake up, I’ll talk to you.”
He was already too drowsy to keep his eyes open.
The latter part of his sentence was so light that it sounded like murmuring to himself.
Not to mention Qi Yanbai, even Lu Ye himself might not have been able to hear it clearly.
As the words fell, Lu Ye had already tilted his head against the pillow and fallen asleep.
His arm slipped off Qi Yanbai’s shoulder, but Qi Yanbai had anticipated it and caught it.
The air conditioner’s warm air hummed loudly.
Lu Ye’s body had already formed a thin layer of sweat.
Qi Yanbai reached over, smoothing down the damp hair on Lu Ye’s forehead.
Then, he gently pulled Lu Ye’s wrist over and lightly brushed it against his own cheek.
Lu Ye was sleeping deeply.
Qi Yanbai cradled his hand as if holding a precious treasure.
After a short while, he lowered his head, softly pressing a kiss onto Lu Ye’s wrist.
“Lu Ye,” Qi Yanbai’s voice was light, as if he was asking him, yet it also sounded like he was murmuring to himself, “… When will you finally realize?”
The room was quiet, and the sleeping Lu Ye was oblivious to this question.
His breathing was gentle and regular, his chest rising and falling with each shallow breath.
“I can’t wait much longer,” Qi Yanbai said.”
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