Years later, the biochip is taken out of Lu Bixing's body. The day after the extraction, the clock reads ten in the morning when Lu Bixing finally opens his eyes.
"How are you feeling?" Lin Jingheng asks softly from beside the bed.
Lu Bixing lets out a big yawn. He looks to Lin Jingheng and flashes him a toothy smile. "A little tired, but apart from that I'm fine."
Lin Jingheng frowns. "You slept nearly twelve hours though."
Lu Bixing stretches his limbs out before sitting up. "I used to be able to stay up for twenty-three days straight, cut me some slack."
Lin Jingheng presses his lips together. "Why don't you rest a bit more?" he suggests.
Lu Bixing shakes his head. "There's work to be done."
"Take an off-day." Lin Jingheng shrugs.
"I'm the prime minister," Lu Bixing reminds him pointedly.
Lin Jingheng lifts an eyebrow. "And? Take an off-day."
Lu Bixing snorts. "Our revered Commander Lin does not need to worry. I will be back for dinner."
"I'll come with you," Lin Jingheng says.
Lu Bixing smiles in amusement. "It is not bring-your-husband-to-work day." He continues, "Besides, we have some new employees today and you'll scare them."
"Why?" Lin Jingheng asks. "I'm not scary."
Lu Bixing looks at his husband with adoration. "Sure you aren't."
Lin Jingheng reaches over and brushes Lu Bixing's bedhead away from his face. "I really am not."
Lu Bixing's eyes close satisfactorily at the action. "I know."
Lin Jingheng lets out the smallest sigh. "If you feel bad, come home."
"Got it," Lu Bixing drawls. "Don't worry, Zhanlu will be with me."
Lin Jingheng cocks his head to the side. "Is that supposed to reassure me?"
"Ha ha," Zhanlu speaks up. "That was a joke."
Lin Jingheng's voice turns serious. "If they overwork you today, they're going to get it from me."
Lu Bixing chuckles light-heartedly. "I'll let them know." Turan nearly chokes on her spit when she hears it.
"We'll carry that, Prime Minister, leave it to us."
Lu Bixing waves the two maintenance staff off. "A box like this is nothing. Let me help." He crouches down to grab hold of the box, and just as he starts to lift, a twinge of pain flares up in his lower back. Wheezing in pain, his hands let go of the box and fly to support his back.
The maintenance staff rush towards him in panic. "Prime Minister Lu, are you okay?"
Lu Bixing nods frantically in embarrassment. "I'll trouble you two to carry the box."
Beside him, Mint peers at him with concern. Her hands hover around him like he can fall any second. "Headmaster, are you getting old?"
Lu Bixing gasps loudly. "Watch your words, I'm at the peak of my youth!"
Mint pretends she believes him "Should I call Commander Lin over?" she asks.
"No!" Lu Bixing stutters out. "Just give me a minute." He slowly starts to straighten his back out, breathing through the pull of his muscles.
Mint winces sympathetically. "At least let me help you back home."
Lu Bixing offers his arm out like an old lady about to cross the street. "I used to be able to lift a box by myself with no problem."
"You tried to carry a box that needed two people," Mint points out.
"I forgot I no longer had the biochip!" Lu Bixing rushes to explain. "Muscle memory, okay?"
When they reach the Home of Commander Lin and Engineer 001, Lin Jingheng startles to his feet at the sight of him. "What happened?"
"Tried to lift a box," Mint says with a deadpan look.
Lin Jingheng frowns and takes Lu Bixing from her. "Why would you do that?"
"It was one box!" Lu Bixing whines.
Zhanlu asks, "Shall I conduct a medical check-up?"
"No," Lu Bixing answers at the same time as Lin Jingheng says "Yes."
Mint cringes, slowly backs away from between the lover's spat and runs out the door.
"It's a strained muscle, it'll be better in a few hours," Lu Bixing says.
Lin Jingheng's frown grows deeper. "Let Zhanlu check."
Lu Bixing pouts. "You're overreacting."
Lin Jingheng looks at him incredulously. "You had Mint walk you back home and I'm overreacting?"
Arguing against the Eighth Galaxy's Commander is more difficult than it sounds. Lu Bixing ends up giving in and allowing Zhanlu to scan his body. As he had expected, he pulled a muscle in his lower back. Nothing serious. Zhanlu prescribes him with rest and pain relief patches.
"No more carrying heavy things," Lin Jingheng tells him sternly.
"I'm not an old man," Lu Bixing snaps back.
Lin Jingheng huffs, "You're right, I'm the old man here, so shouldn't this situation be reversed?"
Lu Bixing doesn't reply and turns to walk into the bedroom with a moody expression.
Lin Jingheng quickly follows after him to support him. "Are you mad? Don't be. Is it very painful?"
Lu Bixing scowls at him, but the expression holds no bite to it. "I'm just angry that I forgot I no longer have the biochip."
Lin Jingheng's expression softens. "It's only been a few days, don't be hard on yourself." He helps Lu Bixing carefully sit on the bed.
Lu Bixing looks up at him. "I'm happy I took it out."
Lin Jingheng returns a small smile. "I know. Should I help you out of your shirt?"
Lu Bixing nods. "My pants too."
Lin Jingheng can't help the short laugh that escapes him, but he still bends down to pull Lu Bixing's pants off. "Anything else?"
Pleased, Lu Bixing points to his mouth. "A kiss." And Lin Jingheng obliges without complaint too.
The moment Lu Bixing steps back into the warmth of his home, he muffles a sneeze into the crook of his elbow.
On the couch, Lin Jingheng looks up from his tablet. "Are you sick?"
Lu Bixing rubs a finger under his nose and shakes his head. "It's cold out. My immune system's just adjusting."
Lin Jingheng hurries to him, worry evident on his features. He presses the back of his hand to Lu Bixing's forehead.
"The human hand is a very inaccurate instrument for measuring temperature," Zhanlu interjects. "Headmaster Lu's body temperature is actually-"
"Zhanlu, mute." Lin Jingheng orders. "You go take a hot shower, I'll make some tea."
Lu Bixing laughs, his voice slightly hoarse. "I don't have a fever. Right, Zhanlu?"
"I am muted," Zhanlu replies.
Lin Jingheng's eyebrows shoot up. "Getting bold now, are you?"
"No," Zhanlu answers, "I simply have two masters."
Lu Bixing takes Lin Jingheng's hand in his. "You don't have to worry, it's just the weather."
The anxiety does not leave Lin Jingheng's expression. "Shower. Now."
When Lu Bixing emerges from the shower, the temperature of the house has been dialled up. There is a steaming cup of tea on the table. Lin Jingheng is holding up a sweater. "You should dress warmly."
Lu Bixing chuckles. "You're going to have me sweating."
"Sweating is good for the body," Lin Jingheng says.
"I can think of many other ways we can sweat," Lu Bixing winks cheekily.
"Mn," Lin Jingheng replies, "when you feel better."
"I seriously feel fine!" Lu Bixing protests.
Lin Jingheng merely nods. "Put on the sweater."
Sighing, Lu Bixing pulls the sweater over his head. "Happy now?"
"Not yet." Lin Jingheng holds up the cup of hot tea.
Lu Bixing obediently takes a sip of it. "Jingheng, you really don't have to worry. I would tell you if I wasn't feeling well," Lu Bixing assures him. "Besides, Doctor Hardin told us there would hardly be any side effects."
"I know," Lin Jingheng says. "Just making sure for myself."
Lu Bixing smiles, but his eyes have a touch of sadness to them. "I appreciate it, but I don't like seeing you all troubled."
Lin Jingheng hesitates. "Can you deal with me for a few more days?" he asks. "Until your body completely adjusts?"
Nodding in answer, Lu Bixing snakes his hands around Lin Jingheng's waist and pulls him closer. "I think it's more of you having to deal with me," he jokes. He glances at the ring on his fourth finger. "It's too late, you can't back out now."
Lin Jingheng's lips quirk up. "Who said I wanted to back out?"
Lu Bixing smiles. "Then you're stuck here with me for the rest of your life."
"Oh no," Lin Jingheng replies drily, now unable to suppress a smile. He presses the back of his hand against Lu Bixing's cheek, checking his temperature again. "I think you're delirious from fever."
Lu Bixing swats his hand away. "I'm not! I was trying to be romantic!"
"Yes, you're very romantic," Lin Jingheng appeases. "Now can this romantic person please get into bed?"
Lu Bixing pulls Lin Jingheng into bed with him before he can escape and snuggles up to him. The next morning, Lu Bixing wakes up with a slight cough, which only adds to the unease festering deep in Lin Jingheng's gut.
Lu Bixing lies in the mess of sheets, breathing heavily, his cheeks flushed from pleasure.
Lin Jingheng looks at him from the other side of the bed. "Are you good?"
Lu Bixing nods, still trying to catch his breath. "My stamina used to be way better."
"You mean the biochip gave you an increased stamina," Lin Jingheng says matter-of-factly.
Lu Bixing holds a mental funeral for the loss of tireless sex. "I used to be able to go multiple rounds with ease!"
The corners of Lin Jingheng's lips twitch up. "Spare a thought for my body, will you?"
Lu Bixing gives a short laugh in retaliation. "Don't act like you didn't enjoy it."
Lin Jingheng sits up, and the blanket drops to his waist. "Need help?" He doesn't miss the way Lu Bixing's gaze falls to his bare chest.
"Maybe I should put the biochip back," Lu Bixing jokes.
Lin Jingheng shoots him a deathly glare.
"I was kidding," Lu Bixing adds.
A military-like coldness seems to encase Lin Jingheng. "Not funny." He gets out of bed.
Lu Bixing quickly follows him. "Hey, I'm sorry, don't be angry."
Lin Jingheng ignores him and heads to the bathroom.
Lu Bixing's lip press into a tight line. "You really hate the biochip, huh?" he says.
Lin Jingheng whips around in disbelief. "I hate-," he starts to say without thinking, but cuts himself off.
Lu Bixing stands there silently, waiting.
Lin Jingheng takes a deep breath and recollects himself. "What I hate is that the biochip helped you build the Eighth Galaxy to what it is today."
Lu Bixing's breath catches in his throat.
"I hate that the biochip helped you when you weren't sleeping or eating." Lin Jingheng's voice drops. "I hate that I could not help you for sixteen years." At Lu Bixing's silence, he continues. "I know it's not my fault, but I still hate it."
Lu Bixing finally understands. "Is this why you've been so worried about me recently?"
Lin Jingheng tears his gaze away.
An indescribable feeling wells up in Lu Bixing. "You helped build this place too, have you forgotten?"
Lin Jingheng stills.
"You were a far more powerful help to me in those sixteen years than the biochip ever was," Lu Bixing says, not missing the way Lin Jingheng's eyes widen unnoticeably. "And we're together here now."
The icy wall around Lin Jingheng seems to crumble away. He doesn't have to say it out loud for Lu Bixing to know that living together with him is all he could ever ask for in his rollercoaster of a life. Lu Bixing is staring at him with the most tender gaze and it is something that he could look at for eons.
"Some post-sex talk, huh?" Lu Bixing whispers.
With that, the heavy atmosphere shatters. The weight that has been on Lin Jingheng's shoulders for days finally disappears. Lu Bixing gives him a comforting smile. "Are you in a bad mood now?"
Lin Jingheng ruffles Lu Bixing's hair gently. "How could I be in a bad mood?"
Lu Bixing's eyebrows raise. "You aren't?"
Lin Jingheng looks at his husband, then he shakes his head. How could he be, when his world is in his hands? To look forward to the future is a luxury, one that they have sweat and toiled for. To enjoy the present is a gift, that he prays he deserves. And perhaps fate has grown tired with him, or perhaps he has grabbed fate by the neck. He hopes this peace he has longed for, that has come at the expense of so much, is here to stay.