The warmth of a loved one can help each other through hardships and obstacles, but it may not withstand the cold winter wind.

Perhaps he had stood on the open balcony for too long.
Jiang Heng’s stomach began to protest, causing a slight, nagging pain.

It wasn’t too serious, but it was bothersome.

Jiang Heng furrowed his brows, took a deep breath, and was about to adjust his posture when Ji Yao noticed.

“What’s wrong?” Ji Yao asked.

“My stomach hurts a bit,” Jiang Heng admitted.

He usually didn’t deliberately go against his own body unless there were more important things to do at the same time.
Facing the freshly minted “boyfriend,” Jiang Heng felt no need to hide his physical condition.

Upon hearing this, Ji Yao furrowed his brow, examined him for a moment, and looked concerned.

“You’re dressed too lightly, not warm enough, and shouldn’t be exposed to the cold wind,” Ji Yao seemed to switch to a certain work mode as if a switch had been flipped.
Without any hesitation, he grabbed Jiang Heng’s arm and led him into the bedroom.

“Lie down on the bed for a while,” Ji Yao suggested.
“Is it very painful?”

“It’s not that severe,” Jiang Heng replied helplessly as Ji Yao tucked him into the covers.
He peeked out from under the blanket, half of his face exposed, and said with a wry smile, “I’ll just go downstairs and have a few sips of hot water—it might be because I haven’t eaten?”

“If your stomach is in pain, don’t eat randomly,” Ji Yao, with some subtle professional instincts, gently touched Jiang Heng’s forehead to check for any abnormal temperature.
Finding nothing unusual, he lifted the blanket and reached inside, touching Jiang Heng’s upper abdomen through his clothes.


“Does it hurt here?” Ji Yao asked.

Jiang Heng wasn’t sure exactly where Ji Yao’s finger was pressing, but he drew in a cold breath and nodded.

There are many complications associated with gastric ulcers, and without proper care, they could worsen.
Jiang Heng had a history of gastric bleeding a few months ago, and Ji Yao didn’t want to take any chances.

Without further ado, he tucked Jiang Heng in properly and then straightened up.
Almost instinctively, he adopted an air of authority, saying, “I’ll go find something easy to digest for you.
Don’t move.”

The aura of a boyfriend and that of a doctor were entirely different.
The patient clearly didn’t dare to provoke Ji Yao recklessly and could only obediently agree.

Downstairs in the dining room, most of the dishes on the table had already cooled.
XiaoTong had been waiting at the table for a long time, and when she finally saw Ji Yao coming downstairs, her eyes lit up.

“Where’s Xiaoheng?” XiaoTong glanced behind Ji Yao and asked, puzzled.
“Isn’t he coming down?”

“He has a stomachache,” Ji Yao explained.
“Eating a full meal during an ulcer flare-up might make it worse.
I’m going to find something else for him.”


“A stomachache?” XiaoTong looked visibly puzzled and asked, “Why would he suddenly have a stomachache?”

Ji Yao hadn’t expected that Jiang Heng hadn’t told XiaoTong anything about his previous condition and was momentarily taken aback.

“…He’s had stomach issues for a while,” Ji Yao thought for a moment and decided to respect Jiang Heng’s privacy.
He didn’t mention Jiang Heng’s surgery but picked a less intrusive explanation, saying, “It’s normal for lawyers due to the strict schedule and not finding time to eat; many in the field experience it to some extent.”

XiaoTong furrowed her brow slightly, clearly taken aback by this news.
She continued to inquire, “Do you need any help? Like getting something for him?”

Ji Yao wasn’t good at dealing with family members at home, but he was skilled in dealing with patients’ relatives.
So at this moment, he oddly understood XiaoTong’s intentions from another perspective.

She felt guilty and wanted to do everything she could to make amends in some way.

“Well, could you help make something easy to digest?” Ji Yao smiled, a bit embarrassed, and said, “My cooking skills aren’t that great.”

“Is sponge cake okay?” XiaoTong’s eyes lit up as if she was genuinely pleased to be of assistance.
“He used to like it when he was younger.”

“That’s fine,” Ji Yao smiled and said, “Just go easy on the salt.”

It was clear that Jiang Heng didn’t usually seek XiaoTong’s help or comfort proactively.
Therefore, even for such a small matter, XiaoTong was quite enthusiastic to be of help.


The kitchen was small and could only accommodate two or three people at a time.
Ji Yao leaned against the sink, waiting for the hot water while watching XiaoTong deftly crack eggs and prepare the cake batter.

Perhaps influenced by the first impression, Ji Yao had initially thought XiaoTong might be a pampered young lady who had never done housework.
However, he was surprised to see her handling household chores so skillfully.

As the temperature on the water heater slowly climbed to 43 degrees, XiaoTong had already placed the porcelain bowl inside the steamer.
After setting the timer, she wiped her hands on a paper towel and smiled somewhat sheepishly at Ji Yao.

“Take it out in five minutes,” XiaoTong instructed.
“After that, I’ll leave the rest to you Ji Yao.”

“Hmm?” Ji Yao was a bit surprised.
He thought that given XiaoTong’s current feelings toward Jiang Heng, she might want to take care of him personally.

“Auntie, aren’t you going upstairs?” Ji Yao asked.

“I’ll wait until he feels better,” XiaoTong said softly.
“Otherwise, he’ll try to put on a brave face in front of me so as not to let me worry.”

Indeed, Ji Yao thought.

In this respect, Jiang Heng and XiaoTong had a mother-and-son-like demeanor, seemingly guarding against some unnamed worries, both trying their best to present their best selves to each other.

Ji Yao didn’t know if they genuinely had each other’s best interests at heart or if they had been apart for so long that they lacked the courage to confide in each other.
In any case, they both clearly understood each other and knew that life couldn’t always be smooth and easy.
Despite that, they continued to make an effort to maintain their perfect facade.

“Well then,” Ji Yao sighed and assured her, “I’ll take good care of him.”

XiaoTong nodded, her gaze soft as she looked at him for a moment.
In the end, she didn’t say anything and quietly returned to her room.

The lavish spread of dishes on the dining table, with a mix of Western and Chinese cuisine, had now completely cooled.
Ji Yao looked around and, after a moment’s thought, decided not to let it all go to waste.
He peeled two shrimp balls, removed the shrimp from the crispy shells, and added them to the sponge cake.

As Ji Yao headed upstairs, Jiang Heng was nestled under the soft, fluffy covers, looking somewhat drowsy.
He had gotten up early that day and spent the day with XiaoTong, so he was now quite tired.
He had dozed off for a while and was half-awake, half-asleep as he looked towards the bedroom door.

When Ji Yao walked to the bedside and took Jiang Heng’s hand, placing the homemade “warm pack” into his embrace, he helped him sit up.


When they had packed their bags to come here, they hadn’t expected this turn of events, so they didn’t have everything they needed.
Therefore, Ji Yao temporarily used a common method from the hospital’s inpatient department.
He filled a bottle with hot water and wrapped it in a thick, dry towel.
The temperature was just right.

Jiang Heng was startled by Ji Yao’s movements and woke up from his drowsy state.
He blinked his eyes.

“Would you like to eat something?” Ji Yao held up the bowl of sponge cake and gestured.
He scooped up a spoonful, tapped it with his lips to test the temperature, and then fed it to Jiang Heng.

Jiang Heng recognized the taste of XiaoTong’s cooking after just a small taste.
Ji Yao noticed that he hesitated for a moment but then continued to eat calmly.

Ji Yao could see that Jiang Heng and XiaoTong’s relationship was anything but normal, so he hesitated for a moment and told Jiang Heng about what had happened downstairs.

He didn’t dare to reveal everything, so he carefully chose his words.
However, Jiang Heng’s ability to read between the lines was impressive, and he immediately guessed what Ji Yao wanted to say.

So Jiang Heng tilted his head slightly, avoiding the next spoonful of sponge cake and gently pushed Ji Yao’s wrist, indicating that he should also take a bite.

“I know she still feels guilty after all this time,” Jiang Heng said.
“But firstly, those things are in the past, and secondly, I don’t hold any grudges against her, so there’s no need for that.
Just let her know that I’m doing better.”

“But you can’t keep everything to yourself,” Ji Yao said softly.
“Otherwise, when she finds out on her own, won’t she be even more upset?”

Ji Yao paused for a moment, seeming to think of himself from XiaoTong’s perspective.
His expression became somewhat pouty.

“…And me,” Ji Yao said.
“You don’t talk to me either.”

Jiang Heng hadn’t figured out how to respond to the previous statement, and he suddenly felt that this conversation had taken a turn toward himself.
He was puzzled.

“What?” Jiang Heng asked.

“Auntie told me about your family situation,” Ji Yao said.
“Three years ago, during that Christmas…”

Ji Yao stopped there, unsure of how to continue.

He really wanted to ask Jiang Heng why he hadn’t mentioned XiaoTong’s marriage at the time and why he hadn’t explained anything afterwards.
He could have said that he had been under stress and had drunk alcohol, leading to a momentary lapse in judgment.

But at that time, they couldn’t have the open and honest communication they now enjoyed.

So in the end, Ji Yao could only compromise and ask, “Why didn’t you explain afterward? Actually, you didn’t really intend to sleep with that stranger, did you?”

Years later, bringing up this topic again, Jiang Heng appeared much calmer.
He smiled and readily admitted.

“I didn’t want to,” Jiang Heng said.
“Actually, in the time before you came back, I was in a constant battle with myself, trying to drive him away but also feeling reluctant.”

In fact, at that time, Jiang Heng had reached his breaking point.
Even if he had told himself that he and Ji Yao were over, he couldn’t get past that mental hurdle.
Every time he closed his eyes, he would think of his father and felt that taking that step would turn him into someone like him.

If Ji Yao had returned just ten minutes later, Jiang Heng might have already resolved the matter on his own.

But fate had other plans, and Ji Yao happened to return at that precise moment.

“Why didn’t you say anything then?” Ji Yao placed the bowl on the bedside table and came around to hug Jiang Heng from behind, asking in a muffled voice.
“When I asked you about it at Qingbo’s, you didn’t say anything either.
If Auntie hadn’t told me about your situation, were you planning to carry that almost-cheating label forever?”

“Because there wasn’t much to explain,” Jiang Heng said nonchalantly.
“The situation is what it is, and since it had already happened, the reasons behind it weren’t that important anymore.”

Ji Yao had a vague feeling that something about this logic didn’t quite add up, but at the same time, he felt like it made sense.
He was subtly drawn into Jiang Heng’s perspective.

“But,” Jiang Heng continued, “I’ve been carrying this on my mind the whole time.”

“Sorry, Ji Yao,” Jiang Heng said.
“No matter what I was thinking at the time, I should have broken up with you first before arranging to meet someone else.”

“If you went ahead and broke up with me at that time, would we still be back together now?” Ji Yao couldn’t help but ask.

“No,” Jiang Heng replied.

For him, when something was over, it was over.
If he had already decisively ended things, there would be no possibility of turning back.

“Then it’s a good thing you didn’t say it,” Ji Yao couldn’t help but feel a subtle sense of relief, even though this thought seemed a bit off.
“It seems that immaturity has its benefits.”

Jiang Heng hadn’t expected Ji Yao to focus on this point, and he couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Alright,” after a moment, Jiang Heng shook his head and smiled helplessly.
“Since my attempt at a casual fling failed, and your marriage was canceled, let’s call it even.
How about we clear our sentences?”

“What do you mean by clearing our sentences?” Ji Yao asked.

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