Chapter Ch141.2 - Raising a Big Cat in the Apocalypse (20.2)
editors: apricot & juurensha
Ding Qiuyun stroked the top of the black leopard’s head with one hand to show his encouragement.
The black leopard set down its prey and gently bumped its forehead against Ding Qiuyun’s palm. The tip of its tongue licked his fingertips, leaving the crowd of onlookers all dumbfounded.
Shu Wenqing was still the one who reacted fastest, immediately realizing where she’d left a flaw in her plan.
The city kept a total of 40 adult hounds that were rostered on in shifts. Their main purpose was to guard the entrance and punish disobedient slaves, and their main source of food was weak old humans. During the chaos, the hounds on duty had likely scattered throughout the town to hide in the dark, sitting in the mountains to watch the tigers fight.
… If they weren’t dealt with in a timely way, then they would eventually have become an endless poison.
Shu Wenqing’s attention soon focused on the leopard, which had started to gracefully lick its paws after setting down the hound. She then turned to look at Ding Qiuyun.
Ding Qiuyun naturally knew what she wanted to say. He crouched down, held the black leopard’s head between both hands, gently grabbing its ear to whisper to it, “Boss, pay attention to safety. Clean up those dirty things and I’ll give you good things to eat when you come back.”
The black leopard seemed to have understood him. It gave out a low roar, then leapt up and disappeared amidst the buildings.
Ding Qiuyun stayed in the town for another three days. He asked some people to first return and report their safety, so that Father Ding, Mother Ding, and the others wouldn’t be worried.
After investigating the town, they discovered that there weren’t very many people in the town who chose to leave. This surprised Yan Lanlan.
When faced with Yan Lanlan’s doubts, Ding Qiuyun poured himself a little home-brewed fruit wine to warm himself up, then said, “Human beings have a strong biological ability to adapt. If you allow him to be a peddler, he’ll survive that way. If you don’t allow him to be a peddler and have him make a living on his own, there might be some complaints, but he’ll still be able to survive. Even if you reduce his life to a state where he’s better off dead than alive, after working for two years, it’ll become familiar work. When it comes to people, what they want is a stable environment. As long as they can turn back and find a lit lamp waiting for them at home, that’s enough.”
He raised his chin to gesture towards Shu Wenqing, “When it comes to someone who is really adventurous, look, there’s one busying themselves over there.”
Yan Lanlan was still young and was stirred up by Ding Qiuyun’s words. She pattered off to Shu Wenqing’s side.
Shu Wenqing had just sent out a group of newly formed scavenging hunting teams that consisted of three new humans and two experienced old humans. They were tasked with searching for materials and hunting for food. Another group of people whose bodies couldn’t pass the fitness requirements had been assigned to developing the land, following plans that had been made prior then abandoned for over a year. They were to plant new species, set up plastic tarpaulins, and prepare the land for planting.
Shu Wenqing saw Yan Lanlan as soon as she looked up, and a little smile emerged at the corner of her mouth. “Little girl?”
“I’m not little.” Yan Lanlan protested routinely, then rubbed her hands. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Hmm.” Shu Wenqing pulled her down to sit beside her. “Keep me company.”
Yan Lanlan exclaimed quietly, but still sat down obediently. She felt that Shu Wenqing’s body was both cool and soft, so she habitually embraced the other party and even recommended herself proudly, “I’m warm.”
Shu Wenting was holding half of a pencil in her hand. She drew a straight line on the plan laid out in front of her. “Mm, I can feel it.”
Yan Lanlan used her palm to warm her elbow. “What am I supposed to do? Just sit here with you?”
Shu Wenqing pushed the drawing at her. “Take a look, is there anything that can be improved?”
Yan Lanlan picked up the pencil, looked over the data on the paper, subconsciously opening her mouth to bite down on the end of the pencil before marking out several points for setting up an automatic sprinkler. When she realized that this pencil wasn’t hers, she grew embarrassed. “Oh, it’s your pencil.”
Shu Wenqing took the pencil back and gently swept a fingertip over the bite marks on the end of the pencil. “It doesn’t matter. Your teeth are quite neat.”
She spoke in a cold and serious tone. Even when she joked, her temperament was one of cool humor. Yan Lanlan laughed and was amused, continuing to lean against her body accompanying Shu Wenqing in her drawing.
Shu Wenqing bowed her head to draw, and her slightly longer curls sliding from behind her ear. “Where’s your favorite place to go in your own town?”
Yan Lanlan narrowed her eyes. “You’re trying to pry information out of me. Are you trying to learn about what the situation is like in our town?”
Shu Wenqing was frank. “Yes.”
Since Shu Wenqing was so honest, Yan Lanlan also responded with honesty, “I love going home the most, of course. My house is something I personally built up bit by bit, and even my bed is something I made myself.”
Shu Wenqing praised, “That’s great.”
Yan Lanlan’s tail lifted up proudly. “Of course.”
Shu Wenqing turned the drawing over and drew out a simple outline of a room. “Like this?”
She was good at drawing military maps, so her lines were simple and clear as she sketched out the appearance of a military bed with a few casual strokes.
Yan Lanlan exclaimed and took over the pencil, adding in many small trivial things. “Like this. … Here, there’s a basin of orchids that Captain Ding brought back for me. It’s very precious. There’s also a bookshelf which I made myself; there’s three levels, filled with magazines and books. And here…”
Ding Qiuyun watched them for a while, then turned to go back to the private tent set up in the square.
Only after opening and pulling the tent curtain closed did he fully change back from Ding Qiuyun to Chi Xiaochi.
Last night, several people had led some private armed forces to try to kill Shu Wenqing and restore the slave town back to how it was before. They’d been discovered by the night watch shift, and both sides had fought. Chi Xiaochi had gone out to watch the fight, and his arm had been grazed by a stray bullet. The injury wasn’t serious, but it had nicked a blood vessel, causing quite a lot of bleeding. It was fine once it stopped.
After the event, Gu Xinzhi took the survivors away. It was unknown where he’d taken them, but he still hadn’t come back yet.
The injury wasn’t serious, but that didn’t mean that it hadn’t caused any trouble. Ever since late that night, Chi Xiaochi had been suffering from a low fever. He felt cold, and the strength he’d garnered from relying on the fruit wine had already been exhausted. He just wanted to find a warm place to sleep.
The low-grade fever really wore him down. He curled up in his sleeping bag and still felt cold. 061 didn’t dare to help him raise his temperature, and hesitated for a moment before arranging for Boss to open up the tent flap and slither inside.
As soon as Chi Xiaochi saw Boss, he acted like someone seeing reinforcements. He had tears in his eyes as he hugged it close.
Boss seemed to know that he wasn’t feeling well and lay down beside his sleeping bag, poking the tip of its nose gently against Chi Xiaochi’s forehead. Chi Xiaochi wrapped his arms around its neck and filled his arms with leopard. The warmth made him feel at peace.
061 talked to him aimlessly from time to time, trying to assess his mental state. “Just now, I heard you say that you wanted to have a home. What would that home be like?”
“I have a home.” Chi Xiaochi buried his face in Boss’s soft fur and muttered vaguely, “I have many houses, and the largest one is on the beach, spanning nearly 1000 square meters. It’s enough to raise up Boss. … Oh, right, I have to go back quickly so that the real estate dealer doesn’t take advantage of my absence. It’s been so long; the house prices must have gone up.”
061 was helpless against him and could only rub the tip of his nose against his burning face.
Chi Xiaochi murmured and was unwilling to show weakness, rubbing back against him.
Somehow, as 061 looked at the dazed and dizzy Chi Xiaochi, he started thinking about the teenager who’d won three full years of scholarships in high school in the past.
He’d always felt that Chi Xiaochi’s life path wasn’t quite right.
The truth showed that Chi Xiaochi’s choice to go into acting was definitely correct, but at the time, he’d clearly had what was a more orthodox and stable future in the eyes of the world.
He’d gone off to become a model at a young age, then gotten pushed into the circle, and finally even gave up on university. Why was that?
061 coaxed Chi Xiaochi and asked lightly, “Back then, why did you decide to become a model?”
He’d asked Chi Xiaochi this question before, but Chi Xiaochi had skipped past it with a ‘Liu-laoshi, you must be trying to pry into my privacy because you want to sleep with me’, and he’d never gotten an answer.
While he was waiting eagerly, Chi Xiaochi raised his listless eyes and answered very honestly, “I’m good looking.”
061: “……” Ha.
Yes, yes, yes, good looking, good looking with the best good looks in the world.
Chi Xiaochi continued, “I also wanted money.”
This was true. Chi Xiaochi should’ve made a lot of money in this profession. He had a good figure even from childhood, tall, with wide shoulders, and a narrow waist. His cold temperament gave him a cool yet attractive presence, enough to touch people’s hearts when he went up on stage.
… It was just, what did a 16 year old child want so much money for?
After hearing 061’s question, Chi Xiaochi rubbed comfortably against the fur at Boss’s neck. “I didn’t enter the profession when I was 16, I started when I was 14. I went to make a living modeling clothing for other people’s stores. I was tall enough to cheat people by saying that I was 16 years old but hadn’t gotten my ID card yet. They all believed it.”
Chi Xiaochi seemed childishly cunning and naive recounting this while he had a fever. He blinked his eyes and his eyelashes seeming to sweep across 061’s heart, making his heart itch and heat up.
He asked, “What was it for?”
Chi Xiaochi seemed to answer without sufficient context, “Because I had to rent a house.”
061: “Oh? A house?”
Chi Xiaochi spoke in a soft voice, “If I didn’t rent a house, the Lou family auntie would have taken away all of Brother Lou’s things. If I rented it, then the things would be mine and wouldn’t be lost.”
There were countless fragments of memories flowing through his mind, making him feel both hot and cold. It seemed like he was witnessing something with his own eyes, but when he thought back on it, there was only a blank spot in his mind.
However, the warm, bittersweet emotions he felt were real.
He found his voice again a long time later, “Xiaochi?”
But Chi Xiaochi had already fallen asleep while hugging Boss. The warm air from his breath blew against the black leopard’s ear. His hair was damp, and his breathing was a little heavy, causing the soft fluff on the leopard’s ears to flatten.
A moment later, the leopard waist that Chi Xiaochi had an arm wrapped around turned into a waist that could almost be encircled with one arm.
061 looked down at the man in his arms. The leopard’s ears and the gray blue pupils hadn’t yet faded when he cupped his face and carefully kissed that damp forehead.
Chi Xiaochi was like a bright fire in an ice box; it was clearly flickering and shining, but it always felt cold and was separated from everything else by a layer. 061 just wanted to hold this box of fire in his arms and carefully keep it warm.
He tentatively touched his lips against Chi Xiaochi’s right eye. As if he’d felt it, Chi Xiaochi’s spirit fluctuated.
“Liu-laoshi…” His eyes were still closed as his arms tightened. He spoke again quietly, “Brother Lou…”
061 was a little shocked.
Was he calling out to him? Or had he mixed him up with Lou Ying?”
He remained stunned for a long time, and it was too late by the time he realized that there seemed to be a man standing at the entrance.
Gu Xinzhi had always been silent when he walked. He lifted up the flap of the tent with a bloody dagger sheath and called out, “Qiuyun.”
It was already too late for him to change back into his leopard body. 061 could only hide the ears and turn around to look at him.
Gu Xinzhi was shocked when he saw this strange man in a tight embrace with ‘Ding Qiuyun’.
061 tenderly stroked the ears of the young man in his arms, just like how Chi Xiaochi usually stroked Boss’s ears. Then, he held his index finger up to his lips and gently made a ‘shh’ sound towards Gu Xinzhi.