Yan Rui could see Duan Chen’s intense gaze on him and he felt as if the bones in his body were being crushed. His shoulders instantly drooped and his neck hung low.
“Ah Chen, can I not pull out my scales tonight?” The temperature at night was at its lowest and he had just lost blood from the procedure. His weakened body cannot bear the pain of pulling out his scales.
The man’s eyes were reddened in resignation, his eyelashes flickered and he had no control over his thin shoulders as they trembled and collapsed helplessly. To his aggrieved expression, Duan Chen remained indifferent. He looked at him with a merciless gaze which was more frightening than the piercing cold wind outside.
“Do you want to do it or shall I?”
Yan Rui’s body was no longer his own from the moment he was engaged to him. He would let him draw as much blood as he wanted, cut up his flesh or tear out his scales. He was even willing to offer up his life.
Duan Chen opened the drawer and took out a knife. It was a sliver and razor sharp blade the size of an ordinary fruit knife. The only distinguishing feature was the tip which curved upward like a fish hook.
Yan Rui stole a glance and quickly lowered his eyes: “I’ll ……I’ll do it myself.”
“Do it outside, don’t dirty the ward.”
Yan Rui shakily moved forward to receive the knife. His trembling hands unintentionally brushed past Duan Chen’s warm fingertips. Duan Chen tossed the knife on the floor with a look of disgust, as if he had just touched something dirty.
The knife fell to the ground with a cling. Yan Rui held back his anguish, bent down and picked it up. Yan Rui then returned to the room he came from, shut and locked the door.
Yan Rui rolled up his trousers to expose his calf. He was blessed with fair and supple skin and a pair of slender legs. But this pair of legs were riddled with scars old and new. There were even some areas where his tissues had just begun to regenerate and they looked like pink patches.
In Duan Chen’s words, they looked absolutely disgusting.
Yan Rui rolled the trousers up to his knee and ran his left hand across to find the only fully intact patch of skin with a single white snake scale under it. His snake scales grew underneath the flesh, so in order to pull out the scales, he had to first slice away the exterior layer of flesh. Yan Rui looked around the room and finally found a stack of gauze on the table. He bit the gauze in his mouth. His gaze darted briefly then suddenly became still and determined.
As long as it was what Ah Chen desires, he will give it to him. This pain is nothing.
Yan Rui sat on the reclining chair, gripping the knife handle as he pierced himself. The throbbing pain was followed by a stream of warm blood which flowed out with the wound. It trickled like a winding river from his calf to his ankle. Not wanting to dirty the recliner, Yan Rui stretched out his leg such that the blood dripped from his toes to the white tiles below forming a small red puddle. The air now had the smell of blood.
Yan Rui weakly gasped for breath and dug his fingers into the wound to scrape away his flesh. He reached deep before he finally touched something hard. That was his snake scale.
It was impossible to pull out the scale with just bare hands. To do so and keep the scale intact, you need to use a special knife with a curved hook at the end.
Yan Rui bit down hard on the gauze and he raised the knife once again to gently pick up the tip of the scale. When the curved hook latched on, he then forcibly ripped it upwards. The scale fell to the ground with bits of flesh and blood.
Yan Rui let out a hiss in pain. His tears mixed with cold sweat rolled down his jawline and disappeared down his collar. Yan Rui’s temples throbbed, his frontal veins bulged and he curled up with eyes shut to endure the agonising pain. His slender body shook and the knife he once held tightly in his hand had long since slipped away.
Removing the snake scale was as agonising to a snake as shaving the human bone to a man. The man’s body squirmed and rolled uncontrollably until he fell straight down from the reclining chair.
Lying on the cold ground, Yan Rui looked at his bloodstained leg. The flesh could heal with time, but the scales which were dug away will never regenerate. This is also the cause of the unsightly uneven surface of his calves.
The pain caused his leg to lose all sensation. Knowing that Duan Chen was still waiting for him to bring the scale over, Yan Rui could not care about bandaging his wound. He just pulled down his trousers over the bloodied leg.
After quickly wiping up the blood on the ground, Yan Rui pulled out a clean paper towel to pick up the snake scale and hobbled out of the room.
His destination was merely fifteen meters away, but with every step, Yan Rui’s fresh wound scraped against the surface of his pants. It was very painful as if being burnt by fire.
When he reached the door, he knocked. This time the door opened without waiting for him to make a sound. Duan Chen stood inside holding the door handle, and when he saw him, his eyebrows naturally knitted.
“What’s taking you so long? Where’s the medicine?”
In his cupped hands, Yan Rui handed the scale to Duan Chen: “Here.”
Looking at the snake scale wrapped in paper, his tightly knitted brow relaxed. This time Duan Chen did not mind coming into contact with Yan Rui and grabbed the scale from his hands.
“That’s all, you can go back.”
“Ah Chen, when are you going to ……” Yan Rui spoke warily. But before he could finish his sentence, Zhou Ran’s soft and feeble voice suddenly interrupted them.
“Ah Chen, is that Yan Rui who is here to deliver the medicine?”
“It’s him.” Duan Chen’s tone was still cold but much softer than when he spoke to Yan Rui.
“Then let him in, it’s cold outside.”
Duan Chen paused before saying “mm.”
He turned from Yan Rui and Yan Rui stumbled after him. As he entered, he looked up and saw Zhou Ran.
Zhou Ran was an elegant man. He may not be the most good-looking but he had a good temperament and build. His skin was now a sickly white that made him appear fragile. Anyone would want to hold him tightly in their arms to keep him from harm.
He was wearing a blue hospital gown and lying on the bed. Seeing Duan Chen and Yan Rui, he let out a faint smile and raised his hand from inside his quilt to gesture at Duan Chen.
Seeing this, Duan Chen went over and helped him up from the bed and supported him by holding him in his arms.
“How do you feel? Still uncomfortable?”
Duan Chen’s voice travelled into Yan Rui’s ears, the atmosphere became warmer than the heating of the ward.
Yan Rui could not help but reveal an expression of envy as he gazed at the two leaning in each other’s arms on the hospital bed. He thought to himself, if only Duan Chen could be as good to him as he was to Zhou Ran.
At the same time, he felt that he couldn’t be too greedy. He did not need Ah Chen to be that good to him. As long as he could talk to him and pat his head from time to time, he would be content. Just as it was …… 10,000 years ago.
“I’m much better.” Zhou Ran glanced at Yan Rui, “This time, I have to thank Yan Rui, if he hadn’t rushed here, I’m afraid I would have died of pain.”
Duan Chen sneered, “This is what he should do, what’s there to thank him for?” To him, Yan Rui was just a medicine to save Zhou Ran.
“Don’t say that, we should know when to be grateful. Besides, a simple thanks doesn’t cost me anything.” Zhou Ran looked at Yan Rui sincerely: “Yan Rui, thank you, if it wasn’t for your blood, I would have died.”
Yan Rui stammered, “It is no problem, this is what I should do.” As long as Ah Chen was happy, he was willing to do anything. He thought in heart all the things he would do to make Duan Chen happy, but Duan Chen could not hear a word. Even if he did, he would mock his sincerity.
Just by standing there, Duan Chen thought Yan Rui was an eyesore. He threw the snake scale in his hand onto the table: “Take this and grind it into powder.”
Yan Rui reached for it. Using some equipment in the ward, he skillfully grinded the snake scale.
With his head down, he heard Zhou Ran asked: “Is this the medicine Yan Rui brought?”
“Every time I take this medicine my body instantly feels much better, and no longer hurts. Ah Chen, do you think I will get better?”
Looking at Zhou Ran’s weak pale face, Duan Chen stroked his head and said soothingly: “Don’t worry, as long as Yan Rui is around, you will recover.”
Yan Rui took in a deep breath, his eyes seared red but his heart was frozen. Zhou Ran only knew that his blood could be used for his lifesaving transfusion and the “medicine” he brings could cure him. He did not know that he was in fact a snake and saving him was at the expense of his own life, using his flesh and blood.
After being reassured that he could recover, Zhou Ran’s heart was unspeakably glad and praised Yan Rui once again: “It’s good to have Yan Rui around, he is not only good-looking, but kind as well.”
Yan Rui has a slender figure and stands at 1.7 meters tall. Despite being dressed in thick clothing, he did not look bulky in the slightest, ironically, he appeared more petite.
Delicately standing there, it was impossible to tell that he had the body of a snake. Instead, he looked more like…. a small fox.
Duan Chen has seldom carefully examined Yan Rui, but his face was undoubtedly the most exquisite he has ever seen. There were no words to describe his beauty. Perhaps the best way to put it would be that he was good looking to the point that any man would want to be with him.
But what’s the point of looking good? It is just a facade of a dirty beast who was both unintelligent and slow.