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    Chapter 60

    060

    Not even living on another planet was an option now.

    Chu Li had come for an internship primarily to find Jing Baiyuan. With all the events that had transpired along the way and the physical impact of the stormy seas, it wasn't surprising that his rut had been triggered earlier than expected.

    It just so happened that it coincided with the day Blue Vein Star issued its recall order.

    Upon learning this, Chu Li felt utterly embarrassed. He lay in bed, drenched in sweat, and asked helplessly, "So... what do we do now?"

    Jing Baiyuan sat by the bed, running his hand through Chu Li's hair with a faint smile on his lips. "Wait until you're better before leaving."

    Chu Li felt even guiltier. "That would take over a week, wouldn't it..."

    Should they just let Blue Vein Star and the royal family wait?

    Jing Baiyuan replied, "Let them wait. The empire's constitution stipulates that no one can separate an AO couple during their rut for any reason. Even if one party is sentenced to death, the execution must be postponed until after the rut is over. We have the right to stay here and wait for your body to fully recover."

    "But..." Chu Li's already flushed face turned even redder. "Isn't that..."

    Everyone knows now!

    Goodness, how embarrassing.

    Truly mortifying.

    Chu Li's mind was filled with 'social death,' 'embarrassment,' and 'ultimate social death' to the point of ignoring the changes in his body.

    Jing Baiyuan looked down at the Omega whose face screamed 'so socially awkward,' the corners of his lips curling into an increasingly obvious smile.

    However, before he could enjoy it for long, Chu Li noticed him. The Omega widened his eyes, beads of sweat rolling down his temples. Due to his heat, his eyes appeared even more dewy as he stared at Jing Baiyuan. "You're laughing."

    Jing Baiyuan lowered his head and coughed softly, covering his mouth uneasily. "Yes, I am laughing."

    Chu Li was on the verge of despair. "You dared to laugh at me!"

    "I'm not." Jing Baiyuan felt utterly wronged. He just found this kind of Omega adorable.

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting lowered his head, brushing his lips against Chu Li's, and said, "How can you still think about these things?"

    Isn't he already in the midst of his heat?

    Chu Li was even more aggrieved. "Everyone in the entire galaxy knows about it; how could I possibly be in the mood for my heat?"

    This issue couldn't be resolved simply by moving to another planet!

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting: "…."

    Upon hearing this, the Alpha finally couldn't help but laugh out loud. He couldn't resist hugging the person in front of him. "Xiao Li, why are you so adorable?"

    Chu Li, who was being hugged, looked utterly hopeless.

    He would rather not have this kind of adorableness.

    ---

    An Omega's heat lasted seven days, and with the recovery period following, it was even longer. This time, Chu Li didn't take any suppressants. Jing BaiyuanYuanting insisted on keeping him in Deer Harbor for an extra half a month to ensure that he hadn't conceived during his heat before they finally headed back.

    The royal family summoned Jing Baiyuan, but he insisted on staying at Langgang Fortress for nearly a month, citing that his Omega was in heat.

    And to everyone's surprise, he wasn't lying – his Omega was indeed in heat.

    Now, not only did the royal family know, but the entire Blue Vein Star, the galactic network, the empire, and even some factions within the Alliance were aware of the situation.

    In an instant, Jing Baiyuan's Omega became the topic of conversation during casual gatherings. Everyone was curious about this enigmatic Omega – how had they managed to captivate the esteemed Admiral without any prior rumors?

    As people were speculating, an employee from the Civil Affairs Bureau who had previously helped Chu Li with his residency transfer suddenly covered her mouth... She seemed to have figured something out.

    On the day Jing Baiyuan and Chu Li returned to Blue Vein Star, the harbor was swarmed with journalists, all eager to catch a glimpse of the Omega's allure after hearing the news.

    Jing Baiyuan, nor did he expect such a large crowd, only realized the extent of the congestion when he disembarked from the spacecraft.

    He had returned to face interrogation and hadn't brought Ya Lan with him. There was no time to arrange for a discreet departure, so he could only explain the situation to Chu Li and ask if he was willing to leave with him.

    If not, he would probably have to wait at the airport until all the journalists had left.

    Chu Li had grown numb over the past few days. The internet was abuzz with speculation about his identity. He asked woodenly, "How long will we have to wait for them to leave?"

    Jing Baiyuanting was in a dilemma. "Well... I have no idea either."

    Who knew how much patience those reporters had or how long they would linger here.

    Moreover, even if they managed to wait until most people left, it was still uncertain if the news could be concealed.

    Chu Li said despairingly, "Why don't we just leave like this?"

    After all, it was inevitable that Baiyuan would be discovered sooner or later.

    He only wished that when these people discussed his identity, they wouldn't mention the heat period that had delayed Jing Baiyuanting's journey for nearly a month.

    In fact, Jing Baiyuanting had intentionally dragged things out, and he had consulted Chu Li about it, who had agreed. Jing Baiyuanting didn't have any other intentions; he simply felt embarrassed.

    ---

    The owner of Curls and Whiskers Pet Shop was on holiday these few days. At the moment, she was in her bedroom on the second floor of the shop, petting a fluffy cat while watching TV.

    Beside her feet lay a female cat named Dahua, with emerald green eyes and the distinctive tabby stripes and black mittens of a Li Hua Cat. Dahua's kitten, Xiao Key, was on a cat climber nearby, curled up in a round planet-shaped bed, exuding an aloof and unapproachable aura.

    Had she not witnessed the affectionate way this kitten behaved with its owner, she would have truly believed it was an aloof feline.

    Hmph, sold kittens are like spilled water. Cuddly, adorable, and obedient with their owners, but cold and indifferent when back at their birthplace, meowing only for meals—right?

    Shop owner Miss Curls indignantly grabbed a handful of chips and stuffed them into her mouth.

    The drama she was watching was suddenly interrupted by a newsflash, reporting that a General had returned.

    There was only one General in the Empire, so there was no need to guess who it was. But Curls had no interest in such matters and was about to switch channels when a familiar face flashed across the screen.

    Ah, isn't this Little Key's owner?

    Chu Li could be considered a regular customer. Before Little Key left, he would visit the shop every week.

    Curls paused in her attempt to change channels and couldn't resist leaning closer. Indeed, it was Chu Li on TV.

    The content of the broadcast left her perplexed.

    It seemed that General Jing Bai had finally brought his Omega back to Blue Stripe Star... Huh? Omega? General Jing Bai? Returning to Blue Stripe Star??

    Rolls-Royce gazed for a while and suddenly recalled the tall Alpha who had accompanied Chu Li during his first visit to the pet shop.

    She promptly covered her mouth.

    Wow-oh--

    ---

    In the Number 8 canteen of Azure Stripes Comprehensive Academy, a group of Omegas were gathered together, their tones filled with flattery as they clearly sought to curry favor with Chu Heyang, who sat at the center.

    Who in Omega Academy didn't know that Chu Heyang had recently found a powerful and enigmatic Alpha, one who was generous with his gifts?

    "Yang Yang... Has your Alpha invited you out to play? Is he very busy? We haven't seen you going out much lately."

    "When is your rut? You've been together for so long, hasn't he considered proposing or getting married to you?"

    Chu Heyang had been somewhat vexed these past few days. His Alpha hadn't contacted him in ages. Due to the other party's status, Chu Heyang didn't have the Alpha's contact information and could only wait for the Alpha to think of him and take the initiative to reach out.

    But if he were to calculate carefully, it had almost been a month since he last saw the other person.

    The people around him were truly annoying, stirring up trouble where there was none. He grew even more agitated, putting down his chopsticks and saying coldly, "What does it have to do with you? Mind your own business."

    Just as he was about to lash out further, someone beside him let out a soft "eh": "The General has an Omega?"

    There was a hint of disappointment in their tone.

    As the only General in the Empire, Chu Heyang quickly caught on: "What?"

    He looked up just in time to catch a fleeting glimpse on the cafeteria TV, a familiar face flashing across the screen.

    Then came the voice of a news reporter: "General Jing Baiyuan has left the airport with his mysterious Omega. However, they didn't head to the royal palace or the General's residence but... went to a pet store?"

    "On their way to the pet store, our following reporters were stopped. The person who intercepted us stated that the Omega had just gone through the most challenging period of his life and requested some time for him. Later, an official statement will be released. Please wait patiently."

    By this point in the news, the reporter's voice was drowned out by the cafeteria's noise. Most people were used to the TVs hanging overhead and rarely paid attention. So far, no one seemed to have noticed that the Omega accompanying Jing Baiyuan was Chu Li.

    Chu Li... Could it really be Chu Li? How could it possibly be Chu Li?!

    "Bang!"

    Chu Heyang was so engrossed in his thoughts that when he put down his cup, he accidentally exerted too much force, causing the water inside to spill onto someone nearby.

    Startled, the person exclaimed, "Heyang, what's wrong with you…?"

    Chu Heyang's face darkened as he gritted his teeth and stood up. "I'm full. You guys continue eating."

    He left hastily, not bothering to notice the varied expressions on the faces of those behind him.

    The Omegas exchanged glances, all seeing the confusion in each other's eyes. They hadn't offended Chu Heyang, so why had he suddenly flown off the handle?

    Someone whispered, "What's there to be smug about? He hasn't seen his Alpha for days. Maybe he's been rejected!"

    "Shut up! Don't spread rumors!"

    Their conversation was cut short by someone else nearby.

    ---

    Chu Li and Jing Baiyuanting headed to the pet store first to retrieve the small key.

    As the pet store owner carried out the cat cage, their eyes couldn't help but linger on Jing Baiyuan. After staring for a while, they mustered up the courage to ask, "Y-You're General Jing Baiyuan?"

    Jing Baiyuan didn't often return to Lanzhong Star. Apart from being chased by reporters this time, few people had seen his face.

    Since he was discovered, there was no point in hiding it. He nodded and confirmed, "Yes, it's me."

    "Wow..." The owner's face froze, and their gaze gradually filled with excitement.

    This expression was familiar to Chu Li. His classmate had worn a similar look whenever they mentioned the Expeditionary Force. Well, here was another die-hard fan of the Expeditionary Force. Chu Li stepped forward and interrupted the owner's daze with a smile. "How has Little Key been doing lately?"

    The owner snapped back to reality and recalled the matter at hand. After updating Chu Li about Little Key's recent condition, they couldn't help but sigh emotionally, "General actually came to my shop to buy a cat. I'm like a frontline spectator to this drama... Sobsob..."

    Unable to contain their excitement, they let out a few soft sobs.

    Chu Li: "..."

    To prevent the owner from doing anything irrational, Chu Li hastily pulled Jing Baiyuan away.

    In the car, Chu Li held the cat cage in the passenger seat, wearing a gloomy expression.

    Halfway through the ride, the person beside him hadn't asked what was wrong, which irked Chu Li. "You're not even trying to comfort me."

    The tone of complaint caught Jing Baiyuan off guard. "I'm sorry, I had no idea so many people would be here today..."

    He assumed that Chu Li was upset because their relationship had been exposed in such a manner.

    Unexpectedly, Chu Li, holding the cat carrier, turned to look at him straight in the eye. "The boss was staring at you just now."

    Jing Baiyuan was confused. "Really?"

    Chu Li: "..."

    Alright then.

    The big cat was as dense as a log.

    Forget it, he'd forgive him.

    Chu Li lowered his head to play with the kitten in the cage. Perhaps due to resentment over Chu Li's long absence, the little one turned its back on him the moment he approached.

    Chu Li turned to look at it from the other side, and the kitten promptly spun around to face away from him once more.

    Chu Li had no choice but to poke its soft flesh on its bottom.

    The little key protested indignantly, "Meow!"

    Chu Li chided, "Hmph, you ungrateful child!"

    Why won't you let Father give you a kiss?

    Jing Baiyuan smiled as he watched from the side.

    Chu Li looked up, his eyes shining with curiosity. "What are you laughing at?"

    As Jing Baiyuan waited for the traffic light to turn green, he reached out to stroke Chu Li's hair, a smile in his voice. "It's just like you."

    Chu Li instantly pouted, turning his head away from Jing Baiyuan.

    In what way are we alike?!!

    Soon, the two arrived home. Chu Li unlocked the door and released Little Key. Familiar with the routine, the kitten sauntered over to the sofa and leaped onto the cushion, attempting to look down at the two bipeds from its elevated position.

    Unfortunately, it was too small. Even standing on the sofa, Jing Baiyuan was still taller than it.

    Little Key expressed its discontent, letting out a "Hah!" towards Jing Baiyuan.

    Chu Li couldn't help but chuckle. "Hahaha, it seems like you're being intimidated by a cat."

    Jing Baiyuan was speechless.

    He recalled that this little fellow wasn't like this when he was nursing.

    Jing Baiyuan tentatively took two steps forward, and Little Key responded with an even louder "Hah!!"

    Not only did it hiss, but it also bared its claws and puffed up its tail, holding it high behind its back.

    Chu Li, suppressing his laughter, gently pushed Jing Baiyuan, who was still standing at the entrance, towards the second floor. "Don't dawdle in front of it. Just stay upstairs for now."

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting: "..."

    He felt a bit wronged. The house was his, the home was his, and the Omega was his as well.

    So why did a cold meow from a cat greet him upon entering?

    And why did he have to go upstairs?

    Why wasn't it the little kitten going upstairs?

    Before Jing Baiyuan Yuanting could express his grievances, Chu Li pushed him towards the second floor.

    Upon returning home, there was nothing in the house. Chu Li tidied up the first floor and ordered takeout.

    After the food arrived, he went upstairs to call Jing Baiyuan Yuanting to eat. However, Xiao Keyi sat stubbornly on the dining chair, staring intently at Jing Baiyuan Yuanting with a fierce gaze.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting stood by helplessly, not daring to approach and compete with the little kitten for a spot.

    Chu Li had no choice but to separate the two battling felines, allowing the larger cat to eat in the dining room while carrying the smaller one upstairs.

    In Chu Li's embrace, the Little Key continued to fiercely snarl at Jing Baiyuan, only to have its mouth covered by Chu Li from behind.

    With an expressionless face, Chu Li said, "Little kitten, you shouldn't use foul language."

    Little Key: "!!"

    Carrying the Little Key upstairs, Chu Li had initially intended to join Jing Baiyuan for dinner downstairs. However, shortly after descending, he heard the Little Key meowing upstairs.

    Normally, its territory was limited to the first floor, unlike the Li Hua Cat who insisted on human companionship at night. Unless its bowl was empty, the Little Key wouldn't venture up to the second floor.

    Concerned about the Little Key being in an unfamiliar space, Chu Li, who had moved it upstairs to make room for Jing Baiyuan, couldn't help but feel uneasy. After setting out the dishes, he told Jing Baiyuan, "Go ahead and eat. I'll go check on it."

    Jing Baiyuan: "..."

    Downstairs, Jing Baiyuan waited and waited. The food grew cold, yet Chu Li didn't return. He had no choice but to reheat the dishes and bring them upstairs.

    Upon opening the bedroom door, he found Chu Li sitting on the bed, playfully teasing the Little Key with a cat toy. Both human and feline appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting: "…"

    He coughed softly by the door.

    In response, Chu Li shot him an astonished glance and… the sound of Little Key's breath.

    The kitten's fur bristled as expected. After giving Jing Baiyuan Yuanting a strong exhale, it slunk away from his side.

    Watching Little Key's retreating figure, Chu Li was helpless but didn't chase after it. Instead, he looked up at Jing Baiyuan Yuanting and asked, "Why did you come up?"

    Even with Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's calm demeanor, he couldn't help but sound a little aggrieved, "I wanted to have dinner with you."

    "Mmm…" Chu Li had intended to go downstairs for dinner, but he got so engrossed in playing with Little Key that he lost track of time.

    Placing the food on the bedside table, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting said, "Shall we eat here?"

    After some thought, Chu Li replied, "Alright, let's eat here then."

    The two of them managed to finish their meal huddled around the bedside table. As Jing Baiyuan Yuanting tidied up, Chu Li said, "Little Key might be acting this way because it hasn't seen you in a long time and isn't familiar with you."

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting grunted nonchalantly, "Mm."

    As a living person, he couldn't possibly be truly angry with a mere cat.

    It was just that Chu Li, preoccupied with the kitten's emotions, had left him downstairs, causing him a bit of frustration.

    This slight frustration wasn't significant enough for him to voice out.

    ---

    Now that they were back on Blue Stripe Star, Chu Li needed to report to school. He still had at least another year to go before obtaining his graduation certificate.

    However, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's situation seemed less than ideal.

    Somewhat worried, Chu Li brought up the matter before going to sleep that night.

    But Jing Baiyuan Yuanting reassured Chu Li, "For now, there's nothing to worry about. Just focus on your studies at school."

    He always said this, and if not for his understanding that this man would never deliberately hide anything from him, Chu Li might have been angered. He turned around and pressed his hand against Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's chest, saying, "I want to know what might happen so I can prepare myself."

    Jing Baiyuanting paused, saying, "If I declare war on the Alliance without authorization, it will anger the royal family. They might summon the Interstellar Court to put me on trial. I might not be able to see you for a while."

    "..." Chu Li knew that there was always a price to pay for saving him. However, Jing Baiyuanting hadn't mentioned this at all since they left Deerport until their arrival at Blue Vein Star.

    Upon hearing this, he couldn't help but frown, his grip on Jing Baiyuanting's hand tightening.

    But Jing Baiyuanting reassured him, "Don't worry. This matter didn't stem from you and has little to do with you. It won't affect my future actions..."

    Chu Li lifted his gaze to look at him, "I know I don't understand these things, and you don't want to explain them to me either..."

    "Not that I don't want to explain to you," Jing Baiyuan said softly. "It's just that the matter is so significant, I don't know where to begin... If you wish to hear it, I'll tell you everything after the trial."

    Chu Li gazed at him quietly, a feeling stirring within him. He asked softly, "By then, will you take me and Little Key with you?"

    "Would you be willing to come with me?" Jing Baiyuan countered.

    Chu Li replied, "I came from an orphanage, without any biological parents. The Chu Heyang family and I have long severed ties. I have no obligations or attachments except for a cat... If you're not willing to take me, once I graduate, I'll take my cat and move to a remote planet, find a job in a hospital, and live out my days there."

    Jing Baiyuan's heart tightened, and he held Chu Li's hand firmly. "How could I not want to take you with me... I..."

    Chu Li soothingly caressed his hand and whispered, "I can sense that your relationship with Lanwen Star isn't the best. I'm just worried that the judgment might not be in your favor."

    "No worries," Jing Baiyuan replied with conviction. "It's not their time to truly judge me yet."

    Chu Li studied him intently, knowing that Jing Baiyuan was not one to make empty boasts. His certainty must stem from a valid reason.

    Unable to resist, he let out a long sigh and nestled beside Jing Baiyuan.

    "It always feels like I get dragged into bizarre situations because of you."

    Chu Li had no ties to this world initially. He was innately indifferent, and even when he was entangled with Chu Heyang's family at first, he could easily let go. But since arriving here, every event seemed to involve Jing Baiyuan, from accidentally marking him to wanting to adopt the Li Hua Cat, and striving to transfer to the healthcare department.

    Now... Every choice Chu Li made was somehow connected to Jing Baiyuan.

    He had become the strongest adhesive binding Chu Li to this world, like the string of a kite, tying Chu Li, who was originally unrelated to this world, firmly to it.

    Jing Baiyuan held Chu Li's hand tightly, and with his presence, Chu Li drifted off into a daze.

    The next morning, Jing Baiyuan accompanied Chu Li back to school.

    With their relationship now public, Jing Baiyuan didn't see any reason to hide, openly escorting Chu Li all the way to the school gates.

    Amidst the flow of students entering and exiting, those who caught sight of Jing Baiyuan's towering figure were taken aback.

    It turned out that the previous news was indeed true.

    The Omega from the Medical Department, the elusive Alpha, was none other than Admiral Jing Baiyuan!

    This piece of information spread like wildfire, reaching every corner of the school within just half a day.

    Naturally, it also reached Chu Heyang's ears.

    Fuming with anger, he snapped several pens in his grip. As soon as class ended, he hurriedly opened his personal terminal to call his own Alpha.

    Predictably, the call wouldn't go through.

    ---

    On the other side, Chu Li was immediately surrounded by various individuals the moment he stepped into the classroom. Their faces brimming with excitement, they all asked the same question.

    Yesterday, the Omega spotted at the harbor with Jing Baiyuan - was it him?

    Since Chu Li's arrival in this world, he had never been welcomed so enthusiastically. He found himself utterly unprepared and at a loss.

    Fortunately, Wen Renjian appeared just in time, pulling him out of the overwhelming situation.

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