After that sweet moment the lover’s went through many trials. Zhou RenShu’s brain had luckily suffered no injuries but his body was extremely weak, he had to learn how to eat and move again. It had been one week already but Zhou RenShu was still on a liquid diet, his body was having problems digesting after being empty for so long. Although Zhou RenShu’s body was unable to eat properly, his taste buds said otherwise. “I want meat~”
“No meat until you can poop properly, you’re on a liquid diet yet you need laxatives.” Liu Yong was mixing the cultivation medicine with the vegetable porridge. Zhou RenShu remembered the bitter taste all too well and tried to evade the spoon, his reflexes were too slow though and the small spoon quickly passed through his lips. Liu Yong followed the spoon with a straw. “For now, we’ll have to use juice.”
Zhou RenShu happily drank from the straw before his face scrunched into a ball of wrinkles. “Why is it so sour?!”
“Your body can’t handle sugar at the moment, everything will have to be unsweetened.” The breakfast was tiring for both men, once the baby sized bowl was emptied Zhou RenShu felt relieved. The nurse soon came by and it was time for Zhou RenShu’s physio. Liu Yong lifted the tiny boy from the bed and sat him down in a wheelchair. “Do you have a goal, Xiao RenShu?”
The nurse walked beside the wheelchair Liu Yong was pushing, Zhou RenShu had not only been struggling to digest food but his body had been struggling with the basic task of walking too. Zhou RenShu nodded his head but didn’t tell the nurse his goal. Once they arrived at the gym, Liu Yong left the small boy in the hands of the nurse while he went off and did his own workout.
Liu Yong had wanted to stay and cheer his lover on but Zhou RenShu refused, even if Liu Yong wanted to he would be scolded by a soft voice that was barely loud enough to talk let alone shout. Zhou RenShu watched Liu Yong disappear to the heavyweight section before he started his own work.
The nurse helped Zhou RenShu out of the wheelchair and down onto the ground, with two 500 gram weights Zhou RenShu was to hold the weights above his head for 10 seconds before he could have a break. Once this was done 10 times ankle weights of the same amount were wrapped around his legs. “Lift one leg at a time.”
Zhou RenShu grit his teeth as his face burned red. His legs trembled from the small weight, his leg was only a few centimetres off of the ground but it was already tiring. Zhou RenShu pushed and lifted until his skinny leg was almost 20 centimetres from the ground, exhausted he let his leg fall to the ground. “Good work, let’s do the other leg.”
The pain and exhaustion started again as Zhou RenShu struggled to lift his other leg, the thin layer of muscles strained and burned while Zhou RenShu’s nails dug into his palm, small whines escaping from his clenched mouth. Keep going, a little more! Don’t stop RenShu! Eventually the shaking leg was lifted to the same height before it fell to the ground. The nurse clapped happily before offering the red boy a drink of water. “You’re improving well, it may seem slow but that’s only because you know your body was capable of doing these tasks before.”
“Let’s go again.” Zhou RenShu wiped his sweaty face before he laid back down, the nurse always tried to pace him but Zhou RenShu was determined to get better as soon as possible. After 10 leg raises, the nurse assisted Zhou RenSu with sit ups. “Great work, when you need it, take a break.”
Zhou RenShu didn’t want a break though, his body was burning and crying out in pain but it didn’t matter. I need to walk, I have to be able to walk beside Liu Yong. Zhou RenShu laid back on the soft floor, his chest rose and fell quickly from the small amount of sit ups. “I’ll set up the bars and then we’ll practice your steps.”
The nurse walked away while Zhou RenShu took a break, in the distance he could see Liu Yong working out. The tall man had chains and weights hanging from his shoulders as he did chin ups. His strong body was covered in a light layer of sweat. Seeing the sight gave Zhou RenShu’s tired body strength and he sat himself up, the nurse was straightening the bars when she saw Zhou RenShu struggling to stand up. “RenShu! Don’t push yourself too far.”
Liu Yong let go of the bar and landed on the ground once he heard the loud voice of the nurse. He looked over and he saw Zhou RenShu standing with shaking legs, it was as if he was a toddler learning to walk again. He wanted to rush over and help but he knew that wasn’t what Zhou RenShu wanted.
Soon the small weight of Zhou RenShu’s body was too much for his legs and he collapsed to the ground, the nurse rushed over in a panic. Liu Yong forced his body to stay planted as he watched Zhou RenShu cry. With all of his strength he turned around, walking to a corner where he couldn’t see Zhou RenShu and continued his workout.
Zhou RenShu’s body was not only filled with pain and exhaustion but it was also filled with frustration. He punched at the ground while the nurse checked over his weak ankles. “You need to be careful, your legs can’t handle your own body weight yet.”
The words the nurse was speaking didn’t process in Zhou RenShu’s mind as he wiped his red eyes. The nurse brought the wheelchair over to help Zhou RenShu get to the bars where he could practice walking but he refused. “Even if I have to crawl there, I won’t use that.”
The nurse couldn’t do anything but watch with a scared expression as Zhou RenShu struggled to his feet again. He stretched his hands out to balance his body, one shaky foot slid across the soft mat, my first step! The other foot slid across the floor. With one full step made for the first time, the nurse gasped in pride as she followed behind Zhou RenShu, ready to catch him. Take another step, RenShu!
A second step was accomplished with aching legs, the aura of determination expelling off of Zhou RenShu’s body. Just one more, take one more step! The bars were over a metre away and Zhou RenShu could feel his legs were about to give out but he didn’t care. I have to walk again! Lift your legs and walk RenShu! With the third step done Zhou RenShu fell to the ground again, his fall being slowed from the arms of the nurse holding his waist. “Thank you but let go, please.”
“RenShu, it’s okay. It’s only been a week after your coma, your recovery will take time.” Zhou RenShu knew the nurse was right but he also knew his body was stronger than everyone thought. I have faced death twice and won, I know my body is better than it’s current weak state! If I don’t push myself I’ll never make it out of here! The nurse could only stand and watch as Zhou RenShu crawled towards the two bars. I have felt pain my whole life, a little more isn’t going to kill me!
With one hand reaching up, Zhou RenShu grabbed a hold of the bar. One arm pulled his body up while his other hand pushed from underneath him. His body was screaming for him to stop but he pushed past the pain until his sweaty body was standing up right again. The nurse quickly pushed the wheelchair behind him and Zhou RenShu finally accepted it. “Ha~ Ha~ Nurse, don’t be….afraid to ...push me! Ha~ I-I can take it.”
The nurse crouched down to look Zhou RenShu in the eyes, their eyes mirroring the same look of determination. “RenShu, let’s work hard together!”
_ _ _ _ _ _
After that exhausting day it was as if Zhou RenShu’s body had finally accepted to function like a normal human. Liu Yong personally left the hospital for the first time in months to pick up a special order of meat. There was no salt or excess fat as well as spice but the flavour of meat was enough for Zhou RenShu. He had a small helping of slow cooked pork, roasted lamb and barbequed beef. “Only a little, you might get an upset stomach.”
Liu Yong turned away to pour Zhou RenShu a cup of warm water and when he turned around all the meat he had cooled for the small boy was gone, his lips looking a little shiny. “I told you to not eat too fast!”
“I haven’t eaten proper food in so long, I thought I would need to go the rest of my life without eating meat!” Liu Yong forced the water into Zhou RenShu’s mouth before taking it away and picking up a napkin. Once he had turned around again, the meat on his own plate was half gone. “Hehe, I’m still hungry.”
Liu Yong’s face went black as Zhou RenShu held out his baby bowl. You think I haven’t been suffering in this hospital as well! I have been eating cardboard disguised as meat for almost four months! I have also been suffering and going without! Zhou RenShu hurriedly used his chopsticks to pick up a piece of meat and brought it to Liu Yong’s mouth. He could almost hear the joints of Liu Yong’s jaw open and close rigidly, he was eating more like a robot than a person. “Doesn’t your heart feel better now!”
Zhou RenShu always loved when Liu Yong fed him, thinking it was a universal feeling he thought that was the end of that and snuck a piece of meat from Liu Yong’s plate again. Before the succulent juicy pork could touch his lips, Liu Yong snatched it back. “Stop stealing my food! Did we ever set up the deal of one spoon for me and ten for you?”
“I’m still hungry though.” Zhou RenShu picked his empty bowl up again, looking rather pitiful. Liu Yong sighed both aloud and in his heart. He quickly ate a few pieces of meat before placing the rest in the empty bowl. Before Zhou RenShu could happily stuff his face, a spoon was brought to his lips.”You need to finish this bowl of porridge first.”
In the end Liu Yong’s meat was returned since Zhou RenShu ate himself to sleep, after clearing away the dirty plates and rubbish, Liu Yong sat beside the bed and massaged Zhou RenShu’s tired body. His heart felt at ease when his fingers felt the new growing muscles and fat. The once too prominent bones were slowly being covered. It’s fine if he eats my share of the food too, even if he gets a fat belly it will be better than seeing his frail body again.
_ _ _ _ _ _
Slowly another month inside the hospital passed, the best of spring was coming into fruition and Liu Yong was taking Zhou RenShu for a walk around the hospital garden. The delicate smell of fresh plants and flowers floating in the air. “RenShu, how is your physio going? When can I see your progress?”
“Not yet, I don’t want you to see yet.” In truth Liu Yong had seen a lot of Zhou RenShu’’s struggles and achievements. For a few minutes everyday he would secretly watch Zhou RenShu push his body to his absolute breaking point. It hurt his heart to see Zhou RenShu cry and grunt in pain, but he knew that this was something Zhou RenShu could only do by himself. Nobody knew the limits of his body more than the small boy himself.
“When can we leave the hospital?” Zhou RenShu had always been a little afraid of hearing the answer to this question, in the back of his mind he was still scared Liu Yong would leave him again. Will we go our separate ways once I’m fully recovered or will he…. “When your body can handle it, we can go look at apartments together.”
This answer dispelled all of Zhou RenShu’s anxieties as he started to cry in relief, Liu Yong quickly knelt in front of the crying boy while trying to think of the reason Zhou RenShu would be upset. Even though he had thought of many reasons none of them fit the current situation. “RenShu, what’s wrong, are you in pain?”
“Are we going to stay together again? You’re not going to throw me away again?” Liu Yong pulled the crying boy out of the chair and held him close to his chest. Zhou RenShu wrapped his still skinny legs around Liu Yong’s waist. “I’m sorry for sending you away, I did it because I was scared of hurting you again. I only wanted you to be safe.”
Saying it now seemed almost funny. Liu Yong had tried to set up a better life for Zhou RenShu but in the end the small boy had almost been taken away from him again. Zhou RenShu clutched Liu Yong’s long hair as he rubbed his damp face against Liu Yong’s. “Don’t do that again. You can’t do that to me again.”
Liu Yong made the promise over and over until Zhou RenShu calmed down. The sudden outburst had made him sleepy and the two returned to the suite. As usual Liu Yong lifted ZHou RenShu from the wheelchair and tucked him into bed. He was going to sit in his stiff chair when Zhou RenShu grabbed his arm. “Can you hold me until I fall asleep?”
Ever since Liu Yong had been discharged he had Zhou RenShu moved to a private suite and had stayed in that room, it had been half a year since Zhou RenShu had felt Liu Yong hold him in his sleep and he missed it. Liu Yong removed his shoes and slid in beside Zhou RenShu. Had Zhou RenShu been bigger the two wouldn’t have been able to lay together without Zhou RenShu having to lie on top of Liu Yong.
As if Zhou RenShu was a delicate baby, Liu Yong only slightly pulled the small into his chest while his arms gently wrapped around the thin waist. Zhou RenShu clung to his favourite part, Liu Yong’s hair and he drifted off to sleep. Ever since he had dreamed of Liu Yong and him being crushed into stones to be carried away by the river current, Zhou RenShu hadn’t dreamt of the wildflower field. He had asked Liu Yong about it too and the same was said. Once Zhou RenSHu had woken up, Liu Yong never saw the flora field again.
Instead Liu Yong had only dreamed about their future together. Whether it was their new apartment they were moving into or Zhou RenShu painting him various paintings, they were always warm, the cold yet warm sight of the field never coming into view. Zhou RenShu didn’t dream once he fell asleep, instead it was like he was caught between being awake and asleep.
His body could feel the strong warm arms wrapped around him, he was also aware of his own hands clinging to Liu Yong. Even though he could feel these things he couldn’t open his eyes, his vision was instead clouded with rays of warm light. The same warm light he saw when he first woke up and saw Liu Yong.