41 Two Men
After a long moment, I finally released my gashed lip and admitted, “I know. I know that Gao Qi is already dead, that I killed him.” I turned to Nie Zun.
He was still leaning against the wall, having straightened his body a bit. “Then why do you always look at him like that?”
I didn’t reply.
After a moment, he turned around, his resolute back facing me. “Go ahead and rest. I’m going to look around outside.”
After Nie Zun left through the door, I remained sitting in bed. My hands were still wrapped up with white gauze.
Right, Li Shen. He’s not Gao Qi. You already killed Gao Qi with your two hands. But why did he feel so much like Gao Qi?
Well, aside from his appearance, he isn’t at all like Gao Qi. Gao Qi’s warmth was like the feeling of being bathed in a spring breeze. All the places he passed would appear to light up, although that may have just been in my eyes.
Gaoqin Jiuye was different. Gaoqin Jiuye was always cold and arrogant. His eyes carried a heartless aura, like he never wanted to get involved in others’ affairs, like a reaper who would impartially punish everyone for their sins.
I did my best to highlight the differences between the two fo them. I tried to pinpoint all their differences, as a reminder, to prevent myself from falling into another spell. I thought about it, and with my unconstrained imagination, for some reason, I suddenly thought of Nie Zun.
I asked myself what Nie Zun meant to me.
He was the devil. Because my second identity lived within him, he was the devil.
But, what else?
Nie Zun and Gao Qi were indeed very different. Nie Zun was mostly cold, though it was a different coldness from Gaoqin Jiuye’s. His coldness was like his apathy, a shadow that others didn’t see. Because he was carefree and unrestrained, his coldness was concealed.
Nie Zun was also a solitary person. I’d never seen loneliness in his eyes, but I could feel that he was solitary. His was a solitude that didn’t require others’ understanding, that didn’t need others’ sympathy. It was an undefeatable, honorable kind of solitude.
What am I thinking about right now?
I shook my head, unsure what exactly I was analyzing right now.
“Hey, Li Shen, you really are crazy,” I muttered to myself as I sat in the darkness.
“Haha, do you really enjoy talking to yourself this much?” An arrogant and teasing voice came from the window.
I quickly turned my head. Gaoqin Jiuye had already returned returned and was currently sitting on the windowsill, watching me with his demonic eyes.
“Where’s Guan Nie? It seemed he couldn’t bear to be away from you.” I raised my eyebrows.
Gaoqin Jiuye shrugged. “I lost him ages ago. If I want to get away, no one can keep up with me.”
I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. Truly arrogant.
He seemed to have seen my eye roll, and then he jumped in from the window and walked up to me. Since I was sitting with my legs crossed on my bed, he stood much taller than me. His arms were behind his back as he bent down and stuck his head into the semi-enclosed space between the top and bottom bunks. His face stretched towards mine, until he was less than 10 cm from my face.
I grew a bit tense at his sudden action. My heart also trembled as this face, that had once enticed me so, moved into such close proximity.
I tried to breathe lightly, reminding myself that I’d already made it clear to myself that he and Gao Qi were two different people. He isn’t Gao Qi. Li Shen, calm down.
He looked at me with his piercing eyes, and an oppressive force seemed to overcome me. I suppressed my breathing; with his face so close to mine, I worried that my breath would land on his face. The room was fearfully quiet. I started blinking so rapidly that the flapping of my lashes seemed audible in the silence.
A wicked and entrancing smile appeared on his face. “Li Shen, does this Gao Qi person look like me?”
With his charming voice sounding so close to my ears, I should have nearly fainted, but when I heard the name ‘Gao Qi’ in his voice, I suddenly felt a chill.
I looked down, trying to avoid his gaze. “Yes.”
“Did you love him?” Gaoqin Jiuye teased.
With my eyes still lowered, I replied, “Yes.”
Gaoqin Jiuye’s laugh grew frostier. “So, the reason you’re risking your life to get to the Northern District, to find a way to leave the Split Zone, is because you want to return to your world and meet him again? To meet with that person who looks like me?”
He held my chin in his hand, and pulled me closer to him. My eyes widened, and his eyes shined. “Now that you’ve seen someone who looks just like him in the Split Zone, do you feel that you can’t bear to leave?”
Suddenly, I found it a bit laughable. I felt his strong grip on my chin as a smile appeared on my face. I looked at him, despair and hopelessness in my eyes. “Sorry, I’ve never once thought of returning. What’s the point anyway? I don’t feel any desire to return and meet with him, because even if I return, I won’t be able to meet him.”
Gaoqin Jiuye hadn’t expected my response. After a moment, he asked, “Is he dead?”
He still held my chin in his hand. I nodded and then smiled. “Yes. And I was the one who killed him.”
Surprise and astonishment appeared on his face. It was the first time I’d seen Gaoqin Jiuye so startled. In fact, it was the first time I’d ever seen him show any emotion. Surprise was an emotion after all.
After a moment, he stood up straight and had a great big laugh, as if he’d heard the world’s funniest joke. When he smiled, his eyes shined like no other. It even looked like tears were about to flow out.
My chin was still in his hand.
His laughter was exaggerated. “Hahaha! How interesting! Too interesting! Li Shen, you’re really very interesting!”
I stubbornly stared at him as he laughed, refusing to look away.
Suddenly, the door opened, and the light from the hallway streamed in. There was Nie Zun’s tall figure. When he walked in, Gaoqin Jiuye still held my chin as he laughed. Nie Zun must have been taken aback, but as his back was against the light and we were a distance away, I couldn’t see his expression clearly.
Gaoqin Jiuye finally released me. The same cold smile was on his face, but there seemed to be an added curiosity in his eyes now. He said to me, “If that’s the case, Li Shen, why not just continue livng like this in the Split Zone? You can only have fun when you’re alive, right?”
Like a reaper who’d just taken a life, expressing his enjoyment, he smiled cruelly, and then he left through the window. After he left, I could only stare at the still-opened window, motionless.
Nie Zun had walked in quietly, his hands stuffed in his pockets. He walked over to the bed, and without a glance in my direction, he jumped onto the top bunk and lied down.
I felt a bit agitated, so I got out of bed and headed over to the desk on the opposite side of the room. I poured myself a cup of water, and leaning against the wall, I looked up at Nie Zun lying on the top bunk. I lifted my cup, about to take a sip.
But the moment the cup touched my lips, a gust of wind blasted my way. In an instant, Nie Zun flipped out of bed and landed on the ground in front of me.
I froze, my lips having just gotten wet. From beneath his dark bangs, he glared at me, the dark billowing waves rolling in his eyes.
He raised his hand and grabbed the glass of water from my hand, throwing it to the ground. He pressed his other gloved hand against the wall behind me, putting me between him and the wall.
His face approached my face.
Though Nie Zun and I were always together, this seemed to the the first time we’d ever been so close. I looked into his eyes, and I saw his grey, seemingly hurt and lonely eyes. I could feel his breathing on my skin.
He turned his head and his hair seemed to sweep over my forehead. His hot breath and dark, burning eyes made mine feel like they were melting. For some reason, my heart was pounding in my chest. It wasn’t like my exchange with Gaoqin Jiuye. I wasn’t holding my breath, but my heart kept beating faster and faster. If this continued, my heart would jump straight out of my chest and dance about in the air.
Nie Zun remained like that, his dark, burning eyes locked on me. But he didn’t say a word.
I didn’t dare speak either. Instead, I frowned, as I couldn’t handle the rapid beating of my heart. I raised a hand and pressed my palm against my own chest. My heart truly felt like it would leap out of my chest at any moment.
When he saw me frown, anger flashed across Nie Zun’s eyes. His devlish voice sounded in my ears, “You happily let him hold your chin, but when I get near to you, you frown?”
His voice was neither loud nor quiet, neither cold nor warm. Like that, his voice boomed in my ears.