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For the first time in his entire career, Shen Wenjun took time off from the prosecutor's office during his heat.
The law required omegas to be provided with vacation time during their heats, but Shen Wenjun had never taken leave just because of his heat before. In fact, he even used his heat to his advantage during interrogations. Nothing catastrophic had come as a result of his tactics, so his superiors had allowed it.
Him taking a leave of absence was what truly shocked people.
After his boss got over the initial wave of surprise, he didn't hesitate to grant Shen Wenjun's request for leave. "Rest well at home, but… Little Jun, I know this is your personal business. It's not my place to stick my nose in. But I'm still someone who's watched you climb to where you are today, step by step."
This was the superior who had recognized Shen Wenjun's merits. He hadn't looked down on Shen Wenjun for being an omega. He'd fought to help Shen Wenjun advance his career, granting him every promotion he deserved.
Shen Wenjun was relatively willing to listen to this uncle's advice. He stayed on the line and listened as the man continued, "There's nothing wrong with being an omega, but I think you should start thinking about settling down. That way, you won't have to struggle like this."
Typically, Shen Wenjun couldn't stand when people mentioned this sort of thing to him. But he didn't get riled up this time. He only thought for a moment, then said, "Mm, I know. I plan on getting married."
After hanging up, he lay back down in Xie Han's arms, still nude.
They'd played with each other all night, until they fell asleep. When they woke, they'd started right back up again.
Shen Wenjun had never had such a lustful night in his life.
Xie Han was so close to him that there was naturally no way for him to miss what Shen Wenjun had said during his phone call. Stunned, he blurted out, "Married?"
Shen Wenjun turned to look at him. He irritably demanded, "Do you not intend to marry me?"
It couldn't be said that Xie Han looked reluctant. Just serious. He wrapped Shen Wenjun up in his arms, embracing him without making a sound.
"What are you doing?" Shen Wenjun asked. "If you have something to say, say it."
"Let's not make this decision too quickly, okay?" Xie Han mumbled. "Give yourself a chance to back out, in case you feel any regret."
Shen Wenjun furrowed his brow. "What are you talking about? You think I'll regret this? Am I the type of person who goes back on his word?"
Xie Han sensibly argued, "Men aren't exactly known for their credibility after sex. Even if they make a promise, there's a high probability of them regretting it later."
Shen Wenjun stared at him, speechless, for a long while. Finally, he asked, "Then what about you?"
"I'm different," Xie Han said self-righteously. "I've been thinking about this for fifteen years already. Since I was fifteen, I've fantasized about sleeping with you, loving you, and marrying you."
The calmer the justification Xie Han offered, the fiercer the blush on Shen Wenjun's face became. There was no impulsiveness in Xie Han's speech or demeanor. He was clearly offering every one of these words after reflecting upon them for many long years.
"Besides," Xie Han continued, "the matter of Teng Rui isn't completely resolved yet, is it?"
Xie Han took Shen Wenjun's hands in his own. With some remorse staining his voice, he went on, "I actually shouldn't have slept with you last night. You were too impulsive, but I couldn't deny you anything. You take your time and think about this now.
"Your parents might not be able to accept me either, right? You know I'm infertile. If we do get married, we wouldn't be able to have kids. Let's have a proper talk with your family about this before we make any decisions. It's enough for us to just be a couple for now.
"I don't mind waiting, Little Jun. I've waited for you for over ten years. I don't mind waiting a while longer. Even if we have no choice but to break up after dating for a while, I would still be satisfied."
At that moment, Shen Wenjun barely felt like a human being.
Regret surged up from the bottom of his heart. He regretted how much of an idiot he had been for wasting so many years without realizing how well Xie Han treated him.
How had Xie Han felt all this time, staying by his side for more than ten years? Shen Wenjun couldn't even begin to imagine.
For the next few days, he stayed at home. He'd given himself a rare break from work, so he lazed around and didn't do anything important. He even started playing video games.
At night, after Xie Han got home from work, they did the things couples would do, then snuggled up under their warm and toasty blankets.
After his heat passed.
Shen Wenjun went back to work. Right away, he saw Teng Rui.
This kid had already been thoroughly reformed. He no longer dressed like a slob, and he was always one of the first hardworking employees to clock in at the office every morning.
Shen Wenjun pulled a face as soon as he saw him. "Didn't I tell you to quit?"
A passing colleague overhead and joked, "Professor Shen is bullying our young aspiring employees again, huh?"
Teng Rui hurriedly answered, "No, no. It's not like that."
He rubbed his nose. He could tell that Shen Wenjun's pheromones had changed yet again. When Shen Wenjun first stepped through the doorway, his pheromones had been cloyingly sweet.
Something must have happened.
And what could possibly have happened during an omega's heat? Any idiot could have guessed.
So who did Professor Shen have sex with? Teng Rui pondered this question sourly and dispiritedly said, "I turned in my resignation letter, but I still have to hand over my work to my replacement…"
"Then today is your last day on the job, right?" Shen Wenjun left it there. He didn't say another word and turned on his heel to leave.
He'd anticipated that Teng Rui wouldn't accept this rejection so easily.
At lunch, Teng Rui still sat near Shen Wenjun. He still stared at him.
Even after being fired, there would still be ways for Teng Rui to inject himself into Shen Wenjun's life.
Shen Wenjun mulled this over for a while, then picked up his lunch tray and moved over to Teng Rui's table. He sat down in front of him and said, "There's something I have to tell you."
"I… I won't come into work tomorrow," Teng Rui hastily reassured.
"But you still plan on trying to see me, correct?"
Teng Rui didn't deny it.
"I have a boyfriend now," Shen Wenjun continued.
Teng Rui was stunned for a long while. His eyes gradually reddened, like he was about to cry. He breathed in through his nose with an audible sniffle, but still determinedly asked, "Is it Xie Han?"
Shen Wenjun nodded.
Teng Rui choked back a sob. "I kind of figured. Before, as soon as he showed up, your pheromones became a bit sweeter."
Saying that made him feel like he'd stabbed himself in the heart all over again.
Shen Wenjun really hadn't known anything about that subtle shift in his pheromones. He felt a bit embarrassed, and his face took on a light blush.
It seemed he was the only one who hadn't known he liked Xie Han.
"But what about your pheromones?" Teng Rui asked. "He's a beta. He'll never be able to smell your pheromones."
"Love is love," Shen Wenjun declared impassively. "It has nothing to do with pheromones. I'm going to have my glands surgically removed. You won't have to smell my pheromones in the future, so you probably won't continue to like me."
Teng Rui felt utterly humiliated, but he couldn't argue with that. He was the one who had personally admitted to liking Shen Wenjun for his pheromones and his face.
At the end of the day, Teng Rui was still only a half-grown brat.
He couldn't hold back any longer. He covered his face and cried into his arms.
Shen Wenjun was baffled.
His colleagues in the cafeteria were also a bit dumbstruck. They started to chide him—
"Shen-laoshi, what's the matter with you? You made a little kid cry again."
"What exactly did this kid do to offend you? He's been doing pretty well lately, hasn't he? Don't scold him so much."
"Teng Rui, you're a big boy. You're an alpha. Stop crying like that, it's shameful."
Teng Rui's destined wife was flying out of his life. How could he not cry? They were bound by fate, and yet he couldn't win over the bonds of a childhood friendship.
Shen Wenjun had a heart of steel. He was completely numb to this outburst, only thinking the boy's inexperience was a bit amusing. And maybe a bit cute. But he was cute the way a kitten or puppy was cute. Not the way a lover was cute.
He really couldn't help it. He let out a soft laugh.
Teng Rui knew Shen Wenjun was laughing at his childishness. Miserable and ashamed, he sobbed, "I don't think I only like you for your outer appearance. This is all because I was born too late. I want to be born right outside your house in my next lifetime. I want to be your childhood friend."
Shen Wenjun's peals of laughter became even brighter.
Teng Rui's face was stained red all over. It was hard to say whether that was because of his tears, or if it was simply a blush.
Teng Rui saw when Xie Han came to pick Shen Wenjun up from work that day. He thought to himself, Those two are so tight. It would be some sort of miracle if any alpha stood half a chance.
Xie Han could feel someone's gaze boring into the back of his head. Without even turning around, he knew it was Teng Rui, so he asked, "Did you talk to him?"
"Mm," Shen Wenjun hummed.
Xie Han took his hand. There was a sheen of sweat, from nerves, between their palms.
"I told my mother," Shen Wenjun added coolly.
Xie Han gave him an incredulous look. "What did you say?"
"I said that I plan on getting married," Shen Wenjun said. "And that I plan on having my pheromone secretion glands surgically removed so that I won't emit any pheromones in the future…"
Before Xie Han could question him, Shen Wenjun took the initiative to add, "I hate kids anyway. I decided a long time ago that, even if I got married, I would want a two-income, zero-child household."
The operation to remove an omega's glands had come a long way; it wouldn't have much of an effect on the patient's health or everyday life. But an omega who had their glands removed would never be able to get pregnant again.
Xie Han was silent for a while, before he said, "But you hate alphas. Yet you didn't have this operation done earlier. You must have been holding on to the possibility of having kids…"
Shen Wenjun glared at him, like he wanted to say something but was too ashamed and irritated to explain.
Ultimately, Shen Wenjun did collect his thoughts and answer, "I've actually reflected upon this carefully over the past few days. Why didn't I get the surgery sooner?"
The tips of his ears turned red. "It's probably… because this way, I could still use my heats as an excuse to be with you."
Xie Han was stupefied. After a moment, the corners of his lips quirked up of their own volition.
His heart was filled to the brim with the sweet words Shen Wenjun spoke to him. Filled to the point of overflowing.
It was cold.
Shen Wenjun boldly shoved their joined hands into the pocket of Xie Han's overcoat.
They'd known each other for so many years. They'd grown from kids into men together, and yet they still felt and acted like they were lost in the throes of their first schoolyard romance. Their faces reddened, their hearts raced. They could hardly look at each other without blushing.
Xie Han was a bit regretful.
He regretted not making a move sooner.
If he'd known things would turn out this way, he wouldn't have waited for so many years. He would have won over his man a long time ago.
"I'm so selfish. When you said you wanted this surgery, I actually didn't want to stop you," Xie Han confessed sincerely. "I even thought it would be good that no alphas would lust after you because of your pheromones in the future, and that you wouldn't be seduced by those alphas' pheromones. I was relieved.
"Choosing to be with me means you'll never have a child. We'll never have a little baobei. So I'll spend the rest of my life spoiling you, my big baobei."
Shen Wenjun shrank his neck towards his shoulders and hid his burning cheeks in the folds of his scarf.
"Saying something like that on the street," he whispered. "Have you no shame?"