Cheng Xi’s face paled when she saw Lu Chenzhou standing outside, but she quickly recovered and greeted him normally. “Why didn’t you let me know that you came out?” She grasped his hand in hers. The spring air was cool, but his fingertips were even colder than the December wind. Cheng Xi unconsciously rubbed them in an attempt to warm them up. “Do you feel alright?”
“Yes,” he replied softly.
“Shall we go back?”
And so, Cheng Xi held his hand and they left the hypnotherapist’s office together. On the way home, neither of the two spoke very much. Lu Chenzhou’s gaze was fixed outside the window, his thoughts preoccupied.
When they got home, he immediately pulled Cheng Xi into bed, where they cuddled together. Cheng Xi felt his whirling emotions through his desperate embrace. After a while, she said, “If you want to do it, we can.”
Sex could be a very good way to let out one’s emotions, and Lu Chenzhou definitely needed to vent right now.
Unexpectedly, he rejected her by burying his head in her back and forcefully hugging her from behind. “No, it’s fine.”
“I’m afraid that I’ll harm you. Cheng Xi, don’t worry about me. I’d rather, just lie here and hug you.”
Cheng Xi’s heart trembled. In the end, she couldn’t move away, and she didn’t say anything else either; she just sighed and closed her eyes.
She didn’t know when she fell asleep, but when she woke up, it was already midday. The spring sun shone brightly through the window, warming up the balcony.
She was still caught in his embrace, his hands tightly wrapped around her.
Lu Chenzhou slept in a very orderly fashion, and he almost never moved at night. When Cheng Xi woke up in the morning, she often saw that his position hadn’t changed at all throughout the night. He seemed to wake up in the exact same position that he fell asleep in—even his blankets were smooth and orderly in the way they draped over his body.
Cheng Xi initially assumed that he hadn’t woken up yet, so she tried to stay still, but then, she felt that something was off and turned around. Lu Chenzhou had actually woken up long ago, but his eyes were indistinct as his gaze was focused on something far off in the distance.
Only when Cheng Xi turned out did he break out of his reverie, turning around to gaze at her.
Cheng Xi touched his face lovingly. “Are you hungry? I’ll make you something to eat.”
He shook his head imperceptibly, and then suddenly said, “She didn’t do it intentionally.”
“What?” Cheng Xi was still a bit muddle-headed. She had long since relegated that frightening guess to a dream, to be temporarily forgotten.
Lu Chenzhou’s voice wasn’t very loud, but it was perfectly clear. “She didn’t experiment on me intentionally. It was because she made an unexpected discovery—I had a rare genetic mutation, and I also had a tendency to distance myself from others.”
Cheng Xi was very shocked. “You remember it all?”
“I looked at a recording.”
Cheng Xi made a soft “Oh” sound before she actually processed his words. “Then, you…… remember it all?”
“A part of it, at least.” His tone was particularly peaceful, as if a heavy burden had just been lifted from his shoulders. “At least…… I wasn’t the one who killed her.”
Cheng Xi nodded sympathetically. At this time, she knew that it would be enough if she just listened quietly.
Lu Chenzhou didn’t seem to want to hide anything from her. He played with her hand, one finger at a time, as he told his story. “I loved my mother very much, and I always felt that she was the prettiest when she was working in the laboratory with her white lab coat on. But she was always ambivalent towards my brother and me. She didn’t like children very much and treated them as burdens. Originally, she had planned on focusing on her work and not having any children, but neither my grandparents nor my father would accept that. So in the end, after a lengthy discussion, she had me and my brother. Even when I was little, I was introverted, and I couldn’t speak in complete sentences even at the age of six. Since I didn’t like other people and I didn’t like speaking, I’d always play with myself. When I was six, I followed her into the lab and accidentally ate some pills left on the table. When she inspected me afterwards, she discovered that I had a genetic mutation that affected my brain. Initially, she thought that it was caused by those drugs, but later, she found that it wasn’t.”
This was all Lu Chenzhou said, but Cheng Xi could already guess the rest of the story: after confirming that Lu Chenzhou’s genetic mutation wasn’t due to any sort of medication, his mother had become interested in her spurned son and performed a series of psychological tests on him…… As for what those tests entailed, Lu Chenzhou didn’t say, and neither did Cheng Xi ask. From Lu Chenzhou’s current personality, she already knew that they couldn’t have been happy memories for him.
Evidently, Lu Chenzhou had also heard the startling hypothesis that the hypnotherapist had put forth. “She did manage to save the data. And she didn’t die in the fire. She was rescued, but her injuries were so severe that she passed away from them two days later. The reason why Donglai was able to cooperate with Cai Yi was because my father gave her all of that recovered data later on.”
Cheng Xi shut her eyes tightly.
Lu Chenzhou caressed her face as he continued to explain his past. “When my mother died, she didn’t say anything. All she did was call me to her side and make me promise to keep it a secret. I didn’t understand what she meant at that time, but later, I understood that she wanted to protect Donglai by making sure that the thread of research she’d given her life for went on. In the past, I didn’t think that this was wrong. She lived for her dreams and she had died for them as well. She always told me that humanity had to improve, that science had to develop, and that in the process, sacrifices would inevitably be made. It was always going to be either her or me; and to her, there wasn’t a big difference between the two. She wanted me to be someone that others would remember forever, so she taught me how to discard all of my useless emotions, and I always followed her teachings…… Until I met you.”
“I first saw you in Cai Yi’s laboratory. Cai Yi was impressed with your abilities and mindset, and she wanted to train you to be her successor, so she called me over to meet you. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. You were wearing a white blouse and a pale green skirt, a particularly plain outfit. When you entered the room, you quickly sat down in front of Cai Yi and told her that you couldn’t accept the experimental treatment that she was proposing based on the fact that you were a psychiatrist. You said that you wished to hold the key to your patients’ recovery in your hands and not cold, hard data.”
Cheng Xi was caught off guard by this part of the story. She remembered this talk with Cai Yi, but she didn’t remember seeing Lu Chenzhou at all. “Where were you at the time?”
“I was sitting right outside. In fact, you walked by my side as you came out. While you might not have noticed me, I noticed you. After that encounter, I read through all of the papers that you had published, and only then did I learn that there was another kind of perseverance—you don’t need to nobly take on all of humanity’s problems, and neither did you have to do something you don’t want to do. In your papers, patients with mental illnesses were people made of blood and flesh, and their suffering was so real and palpable that anyone could feel it.”
“Did you know, Cheng Xi? I initially wanted to make you similar to me. But now, I couldn’t be happier that you’re different from me.” He brought her hand by his lips and kissed it gently. “While you were sleeping, I had a feeling that perhaps the reason why she made me into who I am today was all so that I could meet you. Fortunately, I met you, Cheng Xi.”