Don’t Be a Kept Man

Chapter 156
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Chapter 156: Home Base

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The floor was littered with corpses after the intense battle. After taking a short break, Pei Ran sat back in the driver’s seat and pumped himself up to start the car. He recalled that Leng Feng had said that the southern base should not be far from here, that if they were quick enough, it would only take about half a day to get there.   

The road was long and dark. Borrowing the light from the car, they could see zombies scattered along the trail. Their eyes looked extremely frightening under the light and a few times Pei Ran was very tempted to just run them over, but then those zombies would scatter apart, screaming incoherently as they wandered off somewhere else and let him through.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Qu Yan was very calm as he looked out the window. When the car had driven a fair distance away, he quietly closed his right hand, and with no eyes upon the scene, all zombies wandering by the road suddenly froze and then exploded into bits and pieces of flesh.

The explosion didn’t make much noise, and with the sound of the car engine and tires on the road, none of that transmitted through into the car.

Qu Yan’s eyelashes were quite long and when he narrowed or squinted his eyes slightly, they became a long line. When his eyes were open however, paired with the reflection of the lights of the car, his eyes looked so dark, like the endless abyss, yet it was also a frighteningly bright existence.

Pei Ran lowered the window to get some fresh air. Although the temperature at night was a bit freezing cold, he had nothing else to do, and he began to start up random conversations with Qu Yan on all sorts of topics, on the little things of life. 

Pei Ran asked, 

“Have you always placed first in exams when you were at school?”

By instinct, he could sense that Qu Yan did not have the best of childhoods and avoided the sensitive topic of family.

Qu Yan’s eyes were lowered, and whatever he was thinking then, one hand rested upon Pei Ran’s right leg. Then, as if he was playing a piano, his fingers started to lightly tap. After a while, he casually let out a “hmm”.

He probably thought that being top ranked in exams was no big deal; it wouldn’t have lessened any of the pain he experienced.

“That’s quite amazing,” Pei Ran then asked, “then…… what do you like to eat? What do you like to do?”

Qu Yan looked lost at his words. He tried hard to think back to his youth, going through his blank white memory to find an answer to hand over to Pei Ran. But unfortunately, however hard he tried, he couldn’t grasp anything.

Beginning with his birth, he had never learned what it meant to like something and instead began to hate this world.

After waiting a long time without getting a response, Pei Ran gave him a curious look, 

“Nothing?”

“There is……”

The end of his words were elongated, creating an inexplicable and ambiguous atmosphere. Qu Yan leaned closer to Pei Ran and lightly whispered into his ear, 

“But I won’t tell you hmm.”

Not saying meant no answer. Pei Ran had not missed Qu Yan’s long silence and contemplation just now. When the first ray of light broke through the heavy layer of clouds, clearing up the view in front of their eyes, only then did Pei Ran quietly say, 

“To be a human, hmm, requires you to have something you like.”

Pei Ran said, 

“There must be, as only then would there be a reason to keep living.”

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An unknown wildflower was growing by itself in the cracks of the dirt by the road. A tiny and weak existence, yet it was a rare scene to come upon.

Qu Yan leaned against Pei Ran’s body, unable to hold still; he liked to nuzzle and nuzzled like a little cat. Pei Ran glanced over his face that was finally gaining some fat. Because he was resting on his shoulders, they were squished up, looking quite chubby. With his eyes so big and black quietly looking off into the distance, he looked so innocent and naive.

Pei Ran held in his laughter and said, 

“Why do you keep nuzzling me, just like a newborn kitten wanting milk. I don’t have any you know.”

There was a small silver cross necklace around his neck, having always been hidden under his shirt and lying flat against his body. Its existence was very weak so he had forgotten to take it off. But then he recalled that he seemed to have never given Qu Yan anything, so with one hand on the wheel, one hand went around the back of his neck to take off the necklace.

The car slowed to a stop.

Pei Ran leaned over and hoisted Qu Yan up on top of him. It was only during these moments when the other was held by him did he become very obedient and gentle. With his smooth black hair, he looked even more like a young and unaggressive kitten.

The thin necklace was especially made for Pei Ran and had his name engraved on it. Now that it was around Qu Yan’s neck, that tiny tiny silver cross fell on the young man’s small and pale collarbone, shimmering faintly.

Qu Yan was a bit happy, his eyes lighting up for a moment and his face finally lost that gloomy and dark smile. He lowered his head and touched that necklace, asking Pei Ran, 

“Is this for me?”

Pei Ran ruffled his hair and chuckled under his breath. He teased, 

“Hmm. For you. A cat tag.”

Qu Yan’s fingers carefully caressed the silver chain over and over. At Pei Ran’s words however, he thought back to the dirty wild cats rolling in filth in the narrow and cramp alleyways and said unhappily, 

“I am not a cat.”

Pei Ran reached out to pull him closer and wrapped his arms around him. He rubbed the tip of his nose, and his voice was so hazy and husky, as if speaking words of love, 

“You are my cat.”

Qu Yan took the chance to kiss him twice. His toes wiggled in delight, quickly accommodating, 

“Okay.”

Pei Ran chuckled under his breath again, 

“My cats have all been raised up to be very chubby. You need to gain some weight.”

Qu Yan was checking over the first present he had ever received very carefully so he didn’t notice what Pei Ran said while blabbering. Pei Ran could only then let him sit back in the passenger seat before continuing to drive onwards.

Probably after another half hour of driving, the oncoming road was not hilly anymore and they would occasionally see a few malnourished and gaunt looking survivors, walking like wandering beggars. 

Pei Ran rolled down the window, preparing to ask one of them, when a black shadow suddenly lunged over and grabbed onto the window with a loud bang, 

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“Mister! Mister! Please I beg of you, give me some food, anything will do, I have not eaten anything for a few days now!”

He was a middle aged man, filthy and dirty with eyes that were sunken in due to malnourishment, and seemed to have signs of craziness. Pei Ran couldn’t even raise the window because the man’s entire body was clamping down on it. Seeing his filthy, sweaty rotting hand quickly flying over towards him, Pei Ran’s obsession with cleanliness burst out of him and almost made him jump up from his seat in shock, reflexively throwing himself backwards.

Qu Yan quickly rushed to grab a hold of Pei Ran’s upper body and stared darkly out the window. Whatever he did then, the middle aged man suddenly grabbed his head and cried out in pain, falling to the ground and crawling to get away from the car.

In the eyes of other wandering survivors, this scene immediately stopped their thoughts of trying to copy the man.

Qu Yan reached over to roll the window back up. Seeing Pei Ran’s widened eyes, having not recovered from the shock yet and still in a state like a cat with bristled fur, Qu Yan couldn’t keep the corners of his mouth from tilting upwards slightly and reached over to brush his hair. He used his chin to nuzzle at the other’s head and said,

“It’s all good now.”

Pei Ran closed his eyes, the breath of air stuck in his chest was finally let out. He couldn’t hold in his curses, 

“Fuck, that scared the shit out of me.”

He sat up, his back whirling in pain. He had never thought those lone survivors could be so aggressive at this stage and immediately rested his urge to try and get some information. He was just going to keep driving when he noticed a ragged woman standing by the road, eyes looking at them with hesitation.

This time, Pei Ran had learned and only left a tiny sliver open when he rolled down the window, so small not even a pinky could slide in. The woman anxiously stepped forward. She looked very gentle, evidently having received a good education before the apocalypse. She bolstered up her courage and bent over, lightly knocking at the window, 

“Mister, is there anything I could help you with?”

Pei Ran looked over at Qu Yan and then back at the woman. He asked,

“Do you know how far the base is from here?”

The woman pointed forward, 

“It’s just around the corner. If you want to head into the base, you need to take a number and line up. Then you have to undergo a body examination and pay five crystal orbs for the administrative fee. If you don’t have any orbs, you can pay with food instead. Although there have been many survivors heading here from all over the place. I’ve been lined up here for two days.”

Two days?

Pei Ran’s mind was a bit blank from shock, 

“What number are you?”

The woman said, 

“2600 something. When you get to the registration booth, the guard there will pass you a number. Ability holders have their own line but the queue is around 700 or so.”

Pei Ran asked, 

“Why are there so many people?”

The woman tucked some loose hair that had fallen forward back over her ear and said with lips that were so cracked and dry, 

“You can be infected if you get wounded by a zombie. So their body examinations are very, extremely, thorough, meaning it will take quite a bit of time.”

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Pei Ran could get a grasp of the current situation and reached over to the backseat for a backpack. He passed a bag of biscuits and a bottle of water over to her. The woman had probably not thought that he would be this generous and her eyes widened in shock. She immediately reacted however and quickly hid the provisions on her body. She said quietly and gratefully, 

“Thank you! Thank you!”

Pei Ran nodded his head slightly and then rolled the window back up. He then saw the woman run forward and grab hold of a child on the road who looked to be about five or six years old. Taking the water bottle in her hand, she knelt on the ground on one knee and carefully fed the child.

Pei Ran sighed, 

“So she had a child.”

Through the window, Qu Yan looked at the parental love expressed on that woman’s face, and whatever he thought of then, it made his expression slowly ice over. Flipping through a million negative emotional states, he let out a light, mocking laugh, the corners of his lips displaying endless mockery.

Mock what?

This was supposed to be a very emotionally moving scene.

But he could not be happy.

He himself had not received any, so what gave others the right to have it……

“Come, take a sip of water.”

A clear voice suddenly passed by his ears and as Qu Yan lifted his eyes, he saw a bottle of water passed over to his lips. He followed the line of sight upward and was greeted by Pei Ran’s smiling face.

“Come, drink up, drink up, I’ll feed you.” 

Pei Ran wrapped his arm around Qu Yan’s shoulders, earnestly feeding him some water, 

“I haven’t even treated my parents like this.”

Staring at Pei Ran’s smile that seemed to have come from nowhere, Qu Yan suddenly felt like he was completely seen through. He narrowed his eyes and rejected Pei Ran for the first time, 

“I don’t care.”

“You don’t, but I do,” 

Pei Ran knew he wasn’t thirsty and screwed the cap back on the bottle. He jokingly said, 

“The kid has his mother to worry over him, and you have me to worry over you~”

Qu Yan suddenly felt his heart beating very fast. He couldn’t help but purse his lips, half believing, half suspiciously looking over at Pei Ran. After a while, he stole that bottle of water into his hands and tightly grasped onto it.

Pei Ran asked, 

“Didn’t you not care?”

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Qu Yan crushed the bottle but would not make a sound.

Pei Ran chuckled again and then ruffled his hair. He suddenly said something that didn’t make sense, 

“Should be like this.”

When he wants to be angry, he should be angry. When he wants to throw a tantrum, he should do so. This is what it should mean to be a young man.

Not far away was the base. It was a bit like a castle, with a watch tower at the top. There were soldiers with guns guarding the four entrances at the bottom, each with their own guard stations. A worker wearing a white robe was sitting outside with a table, recording all the information of the survivors. 

The line was like a huge dragon, snaking around at least three corners. There were even tents set up right before the base to wait for their numbers to be called.

Pei Ran had never seen such a sight and was shocked out of his mind, 

“Holy shit, how long will this line take……”

Qu Yan rested his chin on his shoulder and blinked, 

“You sit. I’ll line up for you.”

Pei Ran: “Don’t. I’m not that shameless of a person.”

He parked the car by the road, pulling Qu Yan along with him out the car to grab their number. Their clean outfits attracted quite a few gazes, but Pei Ran had never thought about staying discreet; why would he wear dirty clothes if there were clean ones?

Standing at the end of the line, Pei Ran became a bit agitated as they waited for a soldier to pass them a number card. More than half his body was leaning on Qu Yan, looking as if he was passed out or dead.

Time was ticking away slowly and there would occasionally be a few survivors heading up and down the line to beg for something. Most of them would be beaten up by a few with uncontrollable temperaments and it would require the guards to come over to suppress the situation.

“This is your number. Make sure to keep it safe.”

“This is your number.”

The soldier who was in charge of registration finally got to their place in line. He had his head lowered towards the records and was writing down their information, passing a number card to Pei Ran when he spotted him. His eyes suddenly widened, carefully scanning him up and down, before suddenly bursting out in excitement, 

“Comrade, it’s you!”

Pei Ran lifted his drowsy head up from Qu Yan’s shoulders, asking a question that came the bottom from his soul, 

“Ah?”

The soldier fixed his helmet and excitedly pointed at himself, 

“Comrade, have you forgotten? We were attacked by a horde of zombies yesterday and it was you who saved us. I didn’t think you were still alive! This is so great!”

Pei Ran recognized him then, 

“Oh, I remember. You are a soldier under Captain Leng, right?”

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