Upon returning to the office alone, Xia Wennan sat at his desk and plucked a piece of chocolate from the bouquet, unwrapping it and bringing it up to his nose to smell it.
The familiar aroma of chocolate truffles was similar to the scent of He Yufeng’s pheromones, but not entirely identical. 

Xia Wennan hesitated for a second before locating Chocolate Truffle in his WeChat contacts and sending an inquiring message: “Chocolate truffles?”

Some time later, He Yufeng replied with a smiling reaction image and: “You’ve received them?”

“It was really you?”

“Didn’t you say that they were delicious?”

Xia Wennan snapped a photo of the bouquet and sent it to He Yufeng. “Isn’t this a bit too much?”

“……” After a moment, He Yufeng responded with a voice message: “Sorry, I asked my assistant to arrange it.
I only wanted to send you a box of chocolates—I didn’t think he’d get something so extravagant.
Did it cause you any trouble?”

Xia Wennan clutched at his hair.
To say that it had caused him trouble…? That’s not it.
He just wasn’t all that keen on the feeling that arose from being the centre of attention.
After some thought, he decided to use Ming Luchuan as an excuse and replied, “I’m just worried that Ming Luchuan might misunderstand, that’s all.” 

“Sorry.” He Yufeng’s apology sounded earnest. 

Not knowing what else to say, Xia Wennan looked for an ‘it’s okay’ reaction image and ended their conversation after hitting send.

After his lunch break, Xia Wennan brought the chocolates to the laboratory and gave them to the staff. 

One girl said, “How could we eat such a precious gift?”

Xia Wennan took a piece of chocolate and handed it to her.
“C’mon, it’s not that precious.”

The girl took the proffered chocolate and inquired, “But aren’t they from President Ming? Won’t he get angry if he finds out?” 

Before the girl could finish her question, a young beta who was standing across from them started blinking, signalling to the entrance of the lab. 

Xia Wennan turned around to the sight of Ming Luchuan standing in the doorway.

The girl had lowered her head to open the wrapper and was oblivious to Ming Luchuan’s presence, still waiting for Xia Wennan to answer her question.

Xia Wennan couldn’t say that it was from Ming Luchuan, but he couldn’t say that it wasn’t from Ming Luchuan either—he only tittered vaguely and raised a hand above his head to wave at the man, shouting out, “Hello, President Ming!”

Ming Luchuan tagged along to Xia Wennan’s office and took a seat on the other side of Xia Wennan’s desk, hands folded atop his knees and mouth sealed shut.

Xia Wennan had two pieces of chocolate left on hand.
He slowly pushed one over until it was in front of Ming Luchuan and said, “Want some chocolate?”

Ming Luchuan lowered his gaze towards the chocolate.
“Who are they from?”

Xia Wennan didn’t feel that he needed to hide it, so he said, “He Yufeng.”

Ming Luchuan sucked in a deep breath; though his features remained stony, his tone grew increasingly icy.
“Why did he give you chocolates?”

Xia Wennan looked at Ming Luchuan.
“Because I said they’re delicious.”

“Chocolate is delicious?” Ming Luchuan slightly tilted his head to the left. 

Xia Wennan didn’t know if he was expressing his doubts or just asking a rhetorical question. 

Seeing that he refused to take the chocolate, Xia Wennan took it back and unwrapped it himself.
This time, he stood up and leaned over the table, bringing the chocolate to Ming Luchuan’s lips.
“I think so.
Try it?”

Ming Luchuan looked at him for a moment before opening his lips slightly.

Xia Wennan fed the chocolate into his mouth then sat back down on his soft office chair, slowly swivelling from left to right. 

Ming Luchuan chewed on the chocolate and said, “Tastes bad.”

Xia Wennan looked at him and laughed. 

“You like the chocolates he gave you?” asked Ming Luchuan.

“Well.
So-so.”

Ming Luchuan looked at the remaining chocolate on the table in silence.

Xia Wennan leaned forwards and asked, “Are you still mad?”

Ming Luchuan looked up.
“When did I get mad?”

“That night I asked you about Duan Ning, weren’t you mad?”

“I wasn’t mad,” denied Ming Luchuan. 

“C’mon, why’d you get mad?” Xia Wennan began talking to himself, “Is Duan Ning a scar in your heart that can’t be touched?”

“You—” Before he could finish his sentence, Ming Luchuan was interrupted by Xia Wennan bursting into song.

“White moonlight, somewhere in my heart…” the tone-deaf Xia Wennan filled the room with his off-key serenade.
As he sang these two lines, he seemed to feel somewhat emotional.
Turning his chair around to face the floor-to-ceiling windows and gazing out at the cityscape, he questioned, “Am I a substitute?”

The moment this question left his mouth, Xia Wennan imagined himself in that situation, remembering that Ming Luchuan had once told him that it was he who’d proposed to Ming Luchuan.
He suddenly felt sorry for himself.
His heartbreak even felt real.

Ming Luchuan took a deep breath and paused.“How do you suppose you’d replace him?”

Xia Wennan grasped his meaning and turned back around, despondently saying, “Why can’t I? How am I inferior to him?”

“I said—”

Xia Wennan slapped the desk as he leapt to his feet.
“I may be a beta, but growing up, I’ve always been the handsomest beta at school, got that? I was on my school’s basketball team—and did you know? Back then, everyone in the team were alphas, and every time we finished a game the locker room was practically drowning in alpha pheromones, the smell could smother a person to death.” 

“You got changed with them?”

Xia Wennan was completely oblivious to the fact that he’d veered off topic.
“Where else would I change? The law doesn’t stipulate that betas can have our own locker rooms and bathrooms.
We exist in the cracks of society—don’t you start complaining when you have so many advantages already.”

“Did you shower with them too?”

Xia Wennan tried to remember.
“There were separate cubicles.
I’ve never showered with anyone.”

“You’ve showered with me.”

Xia Wennan was stunned.
“What did you say? When?”

“After we got married, of course.” Ming Luchuan sat in the same manner he had when he first entered the office, speaking to Xia Wennan with a nonchalant expression and indifferent tone.

“That’s not true!” Xia Wennan was terrified.
While vehement denial fell from his lips, his heart was pounding like a drum.
And so to strengthen his convictions, he raised his voice, “You’re lying!”

Ming Luchuan rose to his feet and braced his hands on the desk, wide shoulders leaning forward slightly.
“I told you, you have a red mole on your ass.
You can check for yourself if you don’t believe me.”

Xia Wennan shifted closer to Ming Luchuan.
“How would I do that?”

“Take your pants off.
I’ll take a picture for you.”

“No way!” Xia Wennan refused through gritted teeth.

Ming Luchuan looked straight at him.
Suddenly, he sneered. 

Xia Wennan grabbed his phone and marched outside, heading to the toilet. 

He returned to his office almost twenty minutes later, forehead covered by a thin sheen of sweat and all the colour drained from his face.

Ming Luchuan hadn’t moved an inch from where he was sitting.

When Xia Wennan saw Ming Luchuan, his pale face flushed uncontrollably.

Ming Luchuan appeared like he had everything under control.
“It’s quite hard to find.”

That’s true.
It was hard to find.
The mole was right in the middle, and when standing, he’d had to part his ass with one hand and use his other hand to take the picture.
Ming Luchuan wasn’t lying, there really was a mole there.
It wasn’t big, yet the colour was a garish shade of red.

Xia Wennan’s flushed face paled again, before it faintly reddened once more a moment later.

“Apart from showering together, what else have you done to me?” he asked.

Ming Luchuan rose from his chair and fastened the buttons of his suit jacket that he’d undone when he first sat down.
He walked to the door, and as he passed Xia Wennan, he said in his ear, “We’ve done everything that a married couple would naturally do.”

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