The street was silent now. Jiang Yuelou only came to after Zhan Junbai had shot himself and slumped against the rickshaw. Chen Yuzhi...! He went running back to where his friend was laying and held him up in his arms, carefully checking where he'd been shot.
Blood flowed freely as he pressed the wound. This idiot, he'd told him time and time again not to sacrifice himself so easily but he never listened.
"Yuzhi, hold on. I'll take you to the doctor." he was rocking slowly with the doctor in his arms, as he stuttered a breath.
"It's too late..." he coughed more blood, staining the white turtleneck he was wearing.
"Keying... Please take good care of Keying for me... Take care of my sister for me..." his voice was barely above a whisper and Jiang Yuelou could barely hear him over the rushing sound in his ears.
"I will, I will." there was a beat of silence between them before he felt Yuzhi become a bit heavier against his arms.
"Yuzhi, you... you hold on." Jiang Yuelou held Yuzhi tighter, one arm craddling his neck while the other held him around his stomach, trying to staunch the blood. "Keying is waiting for you! You hear me?! She's waiting for you!"
The street was completely devoid of passerbys at this point. Chen Yuzhi was crying silently in his arms, as he spoke. Jiang Yuelou had his heart in a vice as he looked down at Yuzhi, now gathered closer to him as he shook him slightly.
Chen Yuzhi's hand was holding onto his wrist in a tight grip as he shivered. "It's too late..." Yuelou had a knot in his throat as he heard him. It couldn't be, he couldn't die. Not because of him, he couldn't leave him like this.
"Jiang Yuelou..." Yuzhi held his hand momentarily against Yuelou's cheek before he let it fall back weakly. "You're crying..." Jiang Yuelou shakily held Yuzhi's hand against his cheek again. Chen Yuzhi shook as he tried to breath, the look on his closest friend was heartwrenching.
"I really want... to eat Tang-Yuan with you..." his breath was coming out in rasps now, his hand held no strength against Yuelou's face.
Chen Yuzhi's gaze on him remained soft, his paling face dirtied with his own blood as he felt his own tears run down his temple.
"I'm tired..." Yuzhi gasped out, his eyes growing unfocused as his eyelids seem to droop "I want to have a good rest..." Yuelou's hand craddled Yuzhi's softly, rubbing his thumb along the back of it soothingly and he let the tears fall freely from his face. He felt so lost, he didn't want this to be the end of them. As opened his mouth to talk, Yuzhi whispered "It's snowing..." just like the night they'd spent in his house, talking about their next move, talking about a day out riding horses.
"Jiang Yuelou... I love you... I'm sorry..."
He stopped talking as his eyes slowly closed and the light in them slowly faded, his hand slipping heavy from Yuelou's grip against his face.
"...Yuzhi...?" he shook his friend once - "Doctor Chen..." - twice and then a couple more times but there was no response. He shook him a bit more vigorously.
"No, no, no... Yuzhi, don't leave me. Not before I reply!" he was pretty sure he was panicking at this point. "How cruel are you to tell me that and not let me say it back! Yuzhi!" He couldn't lose him, not again. Not like this.
Unaware of how long had passed he rested his fingertips against Yuzhi's now terribly cold cheek and he jolted back. No, no. He had to rush him to the hospital. Who cares if Yuzi thinks it's too late, he wasn't about to let him get away with leaving him early without giving him a chance to make the doctor happy.
He looked around frantically for anything he could use to take Yuzhi away from here and get him help, when his eyes landed back on Zhan Junbai's motionless body - an idea came to mind.
He quickly stumbled to his feet and gathered Junbai's body in his arms, leaning him against the telephone box to his left and turned to the rickshaw he'd come in. He took Chen Yuzhi's now cold body and secured him on the passenger seat as he pulled the rickshaw towards the hospital.
He ran, and ran, and ran. He didn't remember the hospital being this far from Yuzhi's clinic, the only clue he had being the now larger number of people in the streets. Maybe it wasn't that far at all and he was finally going crazy... What would Yuzhi say if he saw him lose his composure like this. "Yuzhi..." he looked back to the seat where Chen Yuzhi layed unresponsive with wide worried eyes and pushed his aching legs to run faster.
When they finally arrived at the hospital's entrance he dropped the rickshaw's bar unceremoniously and picked Chen Yuzhi up, one arm under his shoulders the other under his legs.
Adrenaline rushing through his blood, he kicked open the door yelling for a nurse and help. Everyone close to the entrance saw the bloodied doctor in his arms and ran to help him.
In no time, there were several nurses surrounding them as they put Chen Yuzhi in a gurney, shouting for the surgery room to be prepared immediately. Yuelou kept repeating the earlier scene in his mind, every word Yuzhi said echoing non-stop in his head. He then remembered every time they'd met, every time they'd cooperated in the cases. Every time they sat together with Xiao Bai in his couch... Every prolonged touch, every time Yuzhi had held his hand and every time he'd held Yuzhi's nape. He remembered seeing Yuzhi aimlessly look for him in the hospital, _even though it had been Yuelou's fault that he ended up there_. Every glance, every look and every time they'd hugged. Every time, Yuelou had withheld the words 'I love you' from him, afraid to scare him away, and he sobbed. It hurt, finally knowing Yuzhi felt the same and not being able to let him know he was wanted, he was loved.
His heart heavy, he intertwined his fingers praying to no one in specific to let him be happy this once. To let him be around Yuzhi, to hold him and never let him get hurt again. Jiang Yuelou prayed for a chance, his stomach churning at the smell of sanitizer and rubber gloves.
He was in and out of conscience for a while - too exhausted to stay awake but too concerned not to stay awake. Having no idea how long had passed he decided to get up, now pacing around the waiting room, eyes swollen from their moment earlier. Keying must still be in school, the problem would be when she went home. He reached for the hospital's telephone and dialed Jin Dacheng's office. It didn't take too long for the distorted voice to come in through the phone's speaker. "Yes?"
"It's Jiang Yuelou, I need you to do something for me..." he pinched the bridge of his nose as he spoke.
"C-Commissioner Jiang, what is it-"
"I'm at the hospital. Zhan Junbai shot Yuzhi right outside the clinic, you should find his body there. I need you to wait at Chen Yuzhi's house for Chen Keying, he's in surgery right now. He... he might not make it..." his tone dipped at the last sentence.
The conversation went quickly after that, arrangements being made to protect Keying and wait for further notice to bring her to the hospital.
When all details had been discussed, he hung up and leaned against the wall trying to piece his thoughts together through all the doubt and fear over Chen Yuzhi's current situation.
Thankfully for him, he wouldn't have to much longer. A nurse stepped out of the operating room asking for Chen Yuzhi's family and he stepped closer immediately, all but running towards the room.
"That's me. How is Yuzhi? Is he..." He trailed off. The nurse patiently waited for him to finish. "He is stable. He went into shock and the cold from the earlier snowfall didn't help. The bullet has been removed and he's been properly sedated-" Jiang Yuelou couldn't believe it.
He sighed in relief and supported himself against the door frame. _He made it..._ The nurse continued. "He just needs to survive the first 24 hours. He'll have to stay under vigilance until he wakes up. You can check with the nurses at the main desk for his room number." He couldn't believe it, Chen Yuzhi had officially escaped certain death twice. He bowed to the nurse and thanked her quietly as he moved to the information desk.
Chen Yuzhi hadn't woken up yet. Jiang Yuelou had fallen to his knees when he saw Yuzhi so pale and still in the hospital bed. It wasn't right for someone as kind as him to have to be put in this kind of danger so often. Having made it past the first day of hospitalization, Yuelou brought Keying to see her big brother. She'd been a sobbing mess asking her Gege to wake up but had managed to calm down when Yuelou told her he was just asleep. From that day on, he would spend the day at the hospital - with special permission from Mayor Cai. He would take Keying to school and come to Yuzhi's room, hold his hand and speak softly to him as he pet his hair. Then he would pick Keying up from school and spend the afternoon at the hospital until visitors were no longer allowed. He'd brought her to his house to keep her company and try to distract her from her worry for her brother. In truth, he'd been doing it for both of them.
This routine lasted for a whole week until finally, just before he'd left to pick up Keying, he'd felt Yuzhi stir slightly next to him.
He held his hand and rested one against his temple rubbing at his hairline softly with his thumb. "Yuzhi, I'm here." he leaned over Chen Yuzhi's figure and spoke softly.
Yuzhi's eyelashes fluttered open slowly, his brow creasing at the light around him before focusing on the person in front of him.
"Jiang Yuelou..." he croaked out. He tried to get up as he held Yuelou's hand back but was stopped by the pain in his abdomen. Jiang Yuelou was faster, telling him to stay still for a bit as he called a nurse.
After he was checked on by the nurse and had drunk some water he looked at Yuelou who was holding his neck as usual and smiling softly at him. "Yuelou..." he started, Yuelou quickly stopped him. "You fool. You self sacrificing fool... I thought I'd lost you for good." Yuzhi hung his head and nodded at the other man. "But... You would've done the same. I couldn't let him hurt you." He felt himslef being pulled into a careful hug before he finished the sentence.
"What was I supposed to do without you by my side, Yuzhi. Keying and I, we need you here." He'd pulled back to stare into Yuzhi's eyes, blinking his tears away.
That did it for Yuzhi who clung to Jiang Yuelou and buried his face in his chest as he sobbed. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry, Yuelou..." the hand around Yuzhi's nape rubbed softly as Yuelou tightened his arms around the young doctor.
They let the silence stretch as they held each other before something came to Yuelou's mind. "Did you mean what you said, that day."
"About the Tang-Yuan-" Jiang Yuelou interrupted him "About your feelings for me."
In a beat, Yuzhi looked at him in disbelief as he felt his face heat up at the mention of what he'd said.
"I... I do. I meant it." There was no point in denying it after he'd said it so clearly, after all. Then, he made it his business to look at anything but Jiang Yuelou, fearful that he'd push him away.
Jiang Yuelou let a rasp of laughter and raised his hands to cup Yuzhi's face and bring him to look in his eyes.
"I should've told you first. Chen Yuzhi, how dare you not let me answer." he smiled. "I love you too." Yuzhi was speechless for a bit until the words seemed to register in his mind and he grew impossibly red. He stuttered as he searched for an answer but Jiang Yuelou dropped one of his arms to Yuzhi's waist as he drew their lips together.
The kiss couldn't have taken more than a second but it felt like they'd been there lips joined forever. Yet when they pulled back even forever didn't seem like enough time, joining again just as softly. Yuelou's hand moved to Yuzhi's hair finding purchase in his brown locks while Yuzhi's own hand moved to the side of the other man's face cradling his cheek not unlike when he'd been shot. The second kiss was more adventurous, they moved almost in sync as they drew back and pecked insistently at each other's lips. When they finally pulled away both were smiling ear to ear, holding hands at the side of the bed. They only turned their attention elsewhere when they heard someone running down the hall.
The light running steps grew closer and closer and a young girl with twin braids screeched to a halt at the door.
"Gege!" Keying rushed to her brother's other side as she cried. "Gege...! I thought you wouldn't wake up!" she sniffed and clung to her brothers side carefully avoiding his stomach. Chen Yuzhi hugged her close as he kissed the top of her head, tears making a reappearance in the family reunion.
Yuelou looked at the door to see Deputy Commissioner Jin shifting uncomfortable before saying "Don't look at me, I was notified and decided it'd be quicker to bring her along." Before peeking at them again. "Thank you, Jin Dacheng." he nodded.
Jiang Yuelou turned his focus back to the siblings and held the two of them in a warm hug as they piled in a sobbing giggling mess.
Chen Yuzhi was released from the hospital around a week later and given notice to not exercise in the coming days. It had been decided that he would move in with Keying to Jiang Yuelou's place, considering their confession and subsequent decision to be together as a couple. Keying was overjoyed that her two Geges would be around as well as Xiao Bai.
"Keying, we'll go pick up some more stuff from our place later, okay?" Yuzhi side hugged his little sister who hummed happily in response.
"Don't worry about that Yuzhi, you'd better not strain yourself. I'll go with her later, right Keying?" Jiang Yuelou had walked up to them and patted Keying's head as she giggled.
Yuzhi looked fondly at Yuelou as he was lead to sit on the couch and Xiao Bai came to rest on his lap. Yuelou looked back at him with just as much affection before he leaned down to smooch Yuzhi's lips and forehead, earning a blushing Yuzhi's scold of 'Keying is here' and 'Behave'.
They'd been through hell together and would likely have troubles to come but, from then on, they'd get through it as a family and both Yuelou and Yuzhi couldn't be happier.