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    Chapter 64


    The Last Chance to Make a Mistake

    Jing Baiyuan paused and squatted down in front of the kitten. "Little Key, come here."

    Upon hearing his name, Little Key was slightly confused. He glanced at Jing Baiyuan but didn't continue purring. However, he remained by Chu Li's side, refusing to leave.

    Jing Baiyuan had no choice but to approach. The previously fierce kitten immediately cowered, not because it didn't want to protect its owner, but because it sensed a wild beast-like aura from this man!

    How terrifying!

    "Meow..." Little Key cried out and retreated under the bed.

    Jing Baiyuan leaned over to look at Chu Li on the bed. Chu Li was still sleeping, seemingly having a dream with his brows tightly knitted, indicating an unrestful sleep.

    He reached out to touch Chu Li's face, which felt burning hot.

    Feverish, no wonder he didn't wake up despite Hong Feng's shouting outside.

    A twinge of guilt flashed through Jing Baiyuanting's heart – he had caused Chu Li unnecessary worry.

    Hong Feng had already recounted in detail how Lancelot had dispatched people to stake out the school gates that morning. If not for Chu Li's quick thinking, the two of them would have been separated by now.

    Jing Baiyuanting sighed inwardly. He had secretly plotted against the imperial family for years, never before considering his own life or the possibility of permanently bonding with an Omega.

    When Ya Lan had asked him back then, his answer had been calm and rational, but looking back, it was clear that he hadn't considered all the implications. Unwittingly, he had made Chu Li fret for him and put himself in harm's way.

    Thankfully, no irreparable mistakes had been made.

    Jing Baiyuanting caressed Chu Li's face and whispered, "Little Li, can you hear me?"

    "Mm..." The sleeping figure turned over, swatting at his hand irritably.

    Seeing this, Jing Baiyuanting realized that Chu Li wouldn't awaken anytime soon. He bent down and lifted him up.

    "Meow." The moment Chu Li left the bed, the small key emerged from under it, leaped nimbly onto Jing Baiyuanting, circled his shoulder, and nestled in Chu Li's arms.

    Chu Li instinctively reached out to hug the kitten, a conditioned reflex developed from his past with Li Hua Cat.

    Jing Baiyuan felt a pang of jealousy but didn't chase the kitten away. Instead, he carried both Chu Li and the kitten out of the room.

    In the corridor, Hong Feng had been holding Chu Li's luggage, waiting for a long time. Seeing the scene, he said, "General, let's go."

    The spaceship was being tracked by the Empire, so they couldn't stay on it. They needed to switch to another one.

    Jing Baiyuan didn't waste any words. Nodding, he carried Chu Li towards the exit.


    Chu Li wasn't sure how long he'd slept. At first, he was having a nightmare where he was locked up by Lancelot, who wanted to use him to lure Jing Baiyuan back. However, Jing Baiyuan refused to return, and Chu Li ended up in a large cage. When he turned his head, he saw his teacher in a cage next door.

    Wen Renjian kept apologizing to him, saying that he was sorry for involving Chu Li in such terrible affairs. Chu Li wanted to console him but found himself unable to make a sound.

    Just as he was growing anxious, someone gently touched his forehead and whispered, "Wake up and have some water."

    Chu Li's eyelids finally felt less heavy. He managed to pry them open slightly and saw the familiar face before him.

    It was Jing Baiyuan Yuanting.

    Still lost in his dream, Chu Li addressed Jing Baiyuan Yuanting, "You've come... to save me?"

    The man paused, his gaze filled with even more self-reproach. "Little Li, we're safe now."

    Chu Li shook his head and noticed a fluffy head squeeze into his field of vision. The little key meowed at him.

    In his recollection, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting and the little key had never coexisted in such harmony. Both the man and the cat wore expressions of concern for him. Before he could figure out what was happening, the sight amused him.

    Seeing Chu Li smile, the Little Key heaved a sigh of relief and immediately turned its head, addressing Jing Baiyuan: "Haha!"

    Jing Baiyuan: "..."

    The admiral couldn't help but feel speechless, but it would be awkward to take issue with a cat. Thus, he got up and moved the small key slightly out of reach.

    Yet, the little key was utterly disobedient, its lithe body skillfully weaving around Jing Baiyuan's grasp.

    Those hands, skilled in piloting mechas and commanding warships, were rendered powerless before a mere cat. Fearful of hurting the tiny feline with excessive force, he could only let the kitten play him like a puppet.

    Chu Li's laughter rang out, and he reached out to scoop up the kitten, thus relieving Jing Baiyuanting from his predicament.

    But then, Chu Li's smile faded as he coolly addressed Jing Baiyuanting, "Perhaps you should consider turning into a cat. That way, you could have a good fight with it."

    With two cats involved, there would be no issue of bullying.

    Jing Baiyuanting could tell from his tone that Chu Li was unhappy. Helplessly, he squatted by the bed and whispered, "Little Li, I was wrong."

    Chu Li instinctively wanted to ask 'What did you do wrong?', but upon reflection, he realized that acknowledging him would only give Jing Baiyuanting what he wanted. So, he held the cat close and lay down on the bed, presenting Jing Baiyuanting with the back of his head.

    Jing Baiyuanting sighed and sat down beside Chu Li. He reached out to touch his forehead, which was still burning hot. He then called Hong Feng to ask for a doctor to be sent over.

    Chu Li, however, grumbled, "No need for a doctor. I'll be fine after a nap."

    Jing Baiyuanting whispered, "Don't be angry with me. Your health is more important."

    But Chu Li swatted away his hand and said, "I am a doctor, and I'm not angry with you. I'm not playing with my health either."

    Jing Baiyuanting had no choice but to continue coaxing, "Then... how about you prescribe yourself some medicine?"

    Chu Li finally turned to look at him and asked, "Do you have any on your spaceship?"

    He mentioned two names of fever-reducing medications, causing Jing Baiyuanting to freeze.

    Indeed, they didn't have any.

    Chu Li settled for the next best thing. "Then, can you get me a glass of hot water?"

    Jing Baiyuanting hastily got up to do so.

    Within less than a minute, he returned with a cup of water in hand.

    Chu Li reached out to take it, but Jing Baiyuanting dodged slightly and whispered, "The water is very hot."

    Chu Li: "..."

    Feeling helpless, he replied, "If it's that hot, why did you still bring it over? Didn't you know to blow on it to cool it down?"

    Jing Baiyuanting's hands were rough with calluses, so he wasn't afraid of the heat. He explained softly, "You asked for hot water."

    Chu Li couldn't help but laugh in spite of himself, propping himself up. "So you'll fetch hot water just because I say so? What if I tell you to stand there and blow on it to cool it down, would you do that too?"

    True to his word, Jing Baiyuan stood obediently by the side, blowing on the water.

    Initially, Chu Li was quite upset, but seeing Jing Baiyuan's earnest and clueless expression softened his heart.

    His moment of tenderness didn't last long, and he scolded himself inwardly for being too clingy. Frustrated, he turned his back again.

    After about five minutes, Jing Baiyuan finished cooling the water. He sat behind Chu Li and whispered, "Xiao Li, I was wrong."

    Chu Li still couldn't hold back and asked, "What did I do wrong?"

    Jing Baiyuan said, "I didn't tell you about my connection with the royal family in time, almost dragging you into it... And for being locked up this month without giving you an explanation beforehand, I've caused you worry."

    "I wasn't worried," Chu Li replied, his nose tingling. But he didn't want to cry, especially not in front of Jing Baiyuan. He suppressed his emotions, though his voice was still somewhat unsteady. "Why should I worry about you? Aren't you always calculating everything meticulously? You don't have to tell me about anything that happens..."

    As Chu Li spoke, he felt overly wronged.

    In truth, he understood Jing Baiyuan's predicament and could empathize with why he hadn't informed him beforehand.

    He merely felt a tiny, insignificant bit of grievance.

    It wasn't to the point of throwing a tantrum or sobbing.

    Yet, as they conversed, he couldn't hold back, and in the end, Chu Li gave up and blurted out that seemingly quarrelsome but genuinely heartfelt statement: "We are two separate individuals, you don't need to account for everything to me."

    Jing Baiyuan let out a helpless smile from the side and leaned in, asking, "Then... you're not going to drink your water?"

    Chu Li thought to himself, despite being angry, the water was innocent. So, he got up and said, "I'll drink."

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting handed him a cup of water at just the right temperature. As Chu Li took the cup, his fingers brushed against the man's rough and calloused palm, causing a momentary pause in his action. Nevertheless, he maintained his composure, taking the water and drinking it down audibly with a few gulps.

    Returning the quilt to Jing Baiyuan, he instead placed the cup on the bedside table. Then, he sat down beside Chu Li and gently adjusted the edge of the blanket, whispering, "I didn't expect Lancelot to make a move on you so soon. In his eyes, you should just be an irrelevant passerby. He didn't tell you those things because he didn't want to involve you, desiring to keep you safe in the most peaceful place."

    Chu Li understood Jing Baiyuan's concern, for no one would readily believe that a widowed Admiral, who had lived alone for over three decades, would suddenly mark an Omega and pledge his life to them.

    Perhaps they assume that Jing Baiyuan is merely engaging in a casual dalliance with Chu Li.

    In this way, whatever Jing Baiyuan did in Luguang would not involve Chu Li from Lanwen Star. Moreover, due to Chu Li's connection with Jing Baiyuan, they might treat him with a bit more courtesy.

    Chu Li cast a glance at Jing Baiyuan, suddenly sighing. "This has nothing to do with you. They didn't want to capture me because of you."

    Jing Baiyuan frowned.

    Chu Li observed him closely, making sure he was unaware of the experiment.

    It made sense – that experimental data was from over two decades ago, a time when Jing Baiyuan was just a child of seven or eight.

    "You…" Jing Baiyuan wanted to ask, if not because of him, then why?

    But then he remembered his own lack of honesty and felt too embarrassed to ask Chu Li to reveal it.

    Chu Li shot him a sidelong glance and said, "Let's start with you. This is your last chance. If you don't tell me now, there'll be no need to later."

    Jing Baiyuan nearly lost himself in that gaze, stammering, "I... I... I don't know where to begin."

    Chu Li pondered for a moment and suggested, "Let's start with your mother."

    Jing Baiyuan sighed and began recounting the story of his origins.

    The story is rather cliché. Jing Baiyuan's parents were once deeply in love, but their experimental data fell into the covetous eyes of Emperor Augustus, leading to their forced separation. Bai Xian was well aware of the emperor's ambitions and had concealed the information beforehand. Frustrated by his inability to obtain it, Augustus resorted to imprisoning the family.

    Back then, Jing Baiyuan was still a young adolescent, powerless to alter the upheaval he witnessed at home. He entered military school under the title of the emperor's adopted son, where he met his mentor, the former Imperial Marshal Qi Jing. Qi Jing took him under his wing, protecting him like a son, and later, despite opposition, promoted him to the rank of General.

    Jing Baiyuan himself proved worthy, accumulating numerous military accolades. Despite Augustus's attempts to suppress him, he continued to rise through the ranks.

    "My mother became confused soon after marrying into the royal family," Jing Baiyuan's voice was somber, condensing his tumultuous life into a few brief sentences. "She not only forgot who I am but also who she is herself." He continued, "I considered taking her away, but every doctor I found couldn't diagnose her issue. Augustus used her illness as an excuse to keep her in the palace."

    "Using her to control you?" Chu Li inquired.

    Jing Baiyuan replied, "Something like that."

    Chu Li rubbed his temples, vexed. Was it really just a coincidence that Wen Renjian invited him into the research team without knowing Jing Baiyuan was his Alpha?

    But then, he considered the possibility that Wen Renjian might have decided to entrust him with the information after learning that Jing Baiyuan was his Alpha.

    Chu Li asked, "Do you know what experiment your mother was involved in back then?"

    Jing Baiyuan shook his head honestly. "I was very young then. The older generation always spoke of that experiment in hushed tones. I tried asking Wen Renjian, but he refused to tell me."

    Chu Li said, "My teacher went missing recently. Before that, he gave me a piece of information… The First Prince… No, Augustus might be after me because of this information."

    "What kind of information?" Jing Baiyuan knew that Chu Li had been working in Wen Renjian's research team, but he never asked about it. He didn't understand the field, and asking would only result in confusion.

    Chu Li replied, "It's related to human immortality… Wait a moment, do you have paper and a pen?"

    He was about to get up and search for them when Jing Baiyuan held him back, whispering, "Don't bother looking. I won't understand even if you write it down. Just tell me briefly."

    Only then did Chu Li recall that the person beside him was a brute, one who was so boldly unrefined.

    So, he explained the content of their experiment, as well as the experiment that was completed two decades ago.

    "The immortality drug has an obvious side effect. After completing the treatment, a person will regress like the afterglow of the sunset, reliving the aging process from infancy. If they don't want to spend over a decade growing up again, they'll need to use a maturation agent in conjunction. I suspect he's searching for that maturation agent, urging my teacher to restart the experiment, and also hoping to continue researching a drug without side effects."

    But Chu Li was well aware that even if the immortality drug based on the sunset regression succeeded, the side effects would still be inevitable.

    In other words, there was no true immortality in this world; it was merely a delusion of those in power.

    After saying so much, Chu Li, still recovering from his illness, felt a tickle in his throat and coughed softly twice.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting immediately grew anxious and whispered, "Are you alright? We'll be there soon. I've asked Hong Fei and the others to prepare medicine for you in advance."

    Chu Li gave a helpless smile. "No need, it'll be fine once we reach the harbor. My condition will improve on its own."

    It wasn't a high fever. He knew his body well, and this was simply due to excessive worry recently, coupled with a sleepless night last night and the exhaustion from their journey.

    With Jing Baiyuan Yuanting by his side now, he felt reassured. A short rest would do him good.

    Nonetheless, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting remained concerned. Despite Chu Li's reassurance, he decided that he would definitely find a doctor for him once they reached the harbor.

    Chu Li added one final detail, "Back then, your mother should have been Professor Wen Renjian's student, right?"

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting nodded. "I believe so."

    Chu Li sighed. "That makes sense. The royal family supported our teacher to conduct experiments, hoping to replicate the results from those earlier experiments."

    However, it seemed that Wen Renjian had no intention of assisting the royal family.

    It was unclear whether he had escaped or fallen into the royal family's hands.

    With that, it was likely that other students were also under investigation, and Zhan Jiaqing and the others would be questioned as well. However, by his escape, their suspicions would be cleared, indirectly assisting them.

    After recounting everything, Chu Li turned to Jing Baiyuan.

    Feeling that he had disclosed all, Jing Baiyuan still felt a chill down his spine under Chu Li's gaze. He couldn't help but ask, "Did I miss anything?"

    His openness was a stark contrast to his previous attempts to reassure without divulging details.

    Raising an eyebrow, Chu Li replied, "How would I know?"

    Maintaining his indifferent tone, Jing Baiyuan sensed something amiss. It seemed like he had not revealed everything.

    Yet, after much pondering, he could not think of anything. Seeing his awkward struggle, Chu Li finally gave in and poked his pectoral muscle. "You haven't told me your motive."

    This might delve into the heart of the plan, and Chu Li genuinely didn't wish to pressure him. He offered, "If it's inconvenient..."

    "There's no inconvenience," Jing Baiyuan assured. "I just haven't figured it out yet. I only want to take my mother away from Blue Vein Star."

    But Augustus wouldn't let her go.

    Between him and Lanwen Star, there was an unresolvable knot.

    Unless it was absolutely necessary, he didn't wish to go head-to-head with the Empire.

    But if the other party insisted, he had no choice. Many things were never under his control.

    "Jing Baiyuanting," Chu Li suddenly said.

    Calling out his full name made Jing Baiyuanting freeze. "…."

    "Before, you refused to tell me. Were you planning to cut ties with me if your plan failed, thinking that it would keep me out of harm's way?"

    Jing Baiyuanting hadn't thought of it that way at the time, but reflecting on it now, there was indeed some truth to it.

    Exposed by Chu Li, he felt a bit guilty.

    But Chu Li continued, "Don't worry. Even if I know everything and someday you end up clashing with the Empire and getting crushed, I won't hold it against you. At that time, I'll find a hospital to remove the mark, then move to a distant galaxy to live my life... If push comes to shove, I'll go to the Alliance. An Omega with a damaged gland isn't really an Omega anymore, so they shouldn't stop me from migrating."

    Chu Li's words made Jing Baiyuanting tense up. He gripped Chu Li's hand tightly, about to say how he couldn't bear to hurt himself, when Chu Li went on:

    "At that time, I'll find a little courtyard in the countryside and raise a dozen cats. At night, I'll have two on my left, two on my right, and two warming my feet... I'll keep a tabby, a Siamese, a Ragdoll, and one more..."

    He continued listing cat breeds, causing Jing Baiyuan's face to darken completely. He firmly grasped Chu Li's hand, "You're not allowed to go!"

    Chu Li looked up at him with a serious and solemn expression, "I'm not joking."

    Jing Baiyuan was speechless, "..."

    "At that time, I'll just find a Beta and live my life the same way."

    This Omega truly made him love and hate, unable to resist!

    Jing Baiyuan realized how foolish his previous thoughts had been. Refusing to let go of Chu Li, he whispered, "I was wrong. You're not allowed to go."

    Chu Li asked, "Then what should I do? If one day you fail, at worst, you'll be an incapacitated Alpha for life. Am I supposed to spend the rest of my days as a widow?"

    "Wait!" Jing Baiyuan almost gritted his teeth as he said, "You're not allowed to cleanse your glands, nor can you raise many cats. Your little key is enough. And you're not allowed to seek out a Beta either."

    Chu Li responded, "Then what about my heat? Without you, am I supposed to tough it out?"

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting replied, "We'll tough it out."

    Chu Li finally smiled and leaned into his embrace, saying, "You said so yourself."

    "Uh-huh, I did."

    Resting in Jing BaiyuanYuanting's arms, Chu Li continued, "Jing BaiyuanYuanting, you personally declared your intention to be with me. We've marked each other, becoming one. You can't leave me, and I can't leave you."

    "You're the Empire's Admiral, while I'm just an ordinary student. I never complained about my status not being worthy of you and demanded that you let me go... What right do you have... to push me away just because you think it's dangerous around you?"

    His voice trembled as he spoke, "This is the last time. If you make this mistake again, I won't want you anymore."

    Only then did Jing BaiyuanYuanting realize how gravely he had erred. Listening to Chu Li's choked sobs, he was heartbroken and didn't know how to console him. He scolded himself inwardly for taking things for granted.

    With nothing else to say, he could only lower his head and hold Chu Li tightly.

    Chu Li buried his face deeper into Jing BaiyuanYuanting's embrace. Heaven knew how much fear he had experienced upon seeing the royal family at the school gate. He had never liked that place, and if Jing BaiyuanYuanting had abandoned him to run off to Luguang alone, how would he have managed on Blue Stripe Star by himself?

    Fortunately, he had caught up in time.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting embraced Chu Li for quite some time, soothing him until Hong Feng couldn't wait any longer and came to knock on the door.

    He had something to discuss with Jing Baiyuan Yuanting, but the latter didn't come out despite his impatience.

    To his surprise, after knocking, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting didn't emerge but instead called for him to enter from inside.

    With a miserable look on his face, Hong Feng pushed open the door and gestured to Jing Baiyuan Yuanting. However, he never expected to meet Chu Li's gaze when he lifted his head.

    Chu Li was nestled in Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's arms, smiling at him.

    Previously, Jing Baiyuan had concealed the truth from Chu Li, and Hong Feng had been an accomplice in that deception. Now, he felt extremely guilty.

    Just as he was racking his brain for an excuse to cover up the situation for the General, Jing Baiyuan spoke, "Bring my personal terminal over. We'll hold the meeting here."

    Hong Feng was taken aback.

    Jing Baiyuan continued, "There's no need to hide anything anymore."

    Seeing Chu Li's amused expression, it was clear that he knew everything already.

    Hong Feng was first taken aback, then he felt relieved.

    Fantastic! Since the Admiral had come clean, there was no need for him to help keep it a secret!

    His scarlet hair danced along with his excitement.

    Hong Feng hurried out and soon returned with a personal terminal.

    In the room, Jing Baiyuan Ting held a video conference right in front of Chu Li. To Chu Li's surprise, the participant list included none other than the Alliance Marshal, who looked eerily familiar. Wasn't this the captain of the ship, Huai Chuan, who had ferried them interns to Deer Harbor previously?

    Jing Baiyuan introduced Chu Li, "This is the Alliance Marshal, his name is Huai Wei."

    Chu Li gazed at the figure on the screen with astonishment, as Huai Wei smiled at him and said, "Hey, we meet again, my lovely."

    This address immediately turned Jing Baiyuan's face dark.

    Author's Note:

    Today, it was Li who proactively asked for hot water.


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