Luo Xun followed the team to the meeting place. This was where all the soldiers who would attend the celebration gathered before the party. The officers would speak and discipline before the meeting, the team half understood the process.
His mind wandered to Yan Fei, Luo Xun stood with the team and waited. After forty minutes had passed, Luo Xun relaxed after seeing Yan Fei enter the queue.
After the briefing, the team dispersed. Yan Fei went to Luo Xun without waiting for the other to find him.
Not too far away Captain Guo said, "Forty minutes until the ceremony, you are not allowed to be late!"
Luo Xun was worried about Yan Fei. "You okay?"
Yan Fei brought Luo Xun to a small patch of shade next to the building. "No problem." He pinched the other's hand, "Here's something good for you."
Luo Xun had question marks above his head before Yan Fei pulled out a stack of meal tickets from his pocket. "For a dining hall?" It was really good stuff.
For people on base, vegetables were expensive but one could still buy them. But meat was very rare at this time.
A few days after the apocalypse, people had to abandon poultry, livestock and other animals. The base did not have any animals left either for multiple reasons. The military logistics division might have some domesticated animals, but these were exceptions and not for eating.
After the start of the apocalypse, there were so many places one could eat meat, such as the dried meat, sausages and bacon in Luo Xun's home. But these things were limited and would be eaten up. Luo Xun tried to ensure that each meal would have a meat dish, but he dared not do too much.
Another way was the dining hall. In the other canteens, meat was extinct, only the top canteen still had some. Although most of the meat in the army was starchy sausage, or rations with long shelf life, it was still meat!
Luo Xun was very happy to take these meal tickets at first, but then he looked worried again. "You…didn't do anything right?" What if he signed some kind of shady deal in order to get these things? Then again, that was Yan Fei's father, maybe they had a tearful reunion after being separated due to the apocalypse?
Yan Fei laughed and helped Luo Xun place the tickets into his pocket. "Rest assured, he's too busy to find trouble with me." It was absolutely true, Liu Xiangyu caused enough trouble for two.
Due to the serious imbalance between men and women on base, there were very few teenagers on base. It was important to sustain the population of the base. With that transition it was understood that, if a woman was pregnant, a hospital would not agree to an abortion! Not for any reason.
Therefore the anxious Liu Xiangyu was prepared to turn to the black market, secretly buy a skilled doctor and solve this problem. The provider of the above information – Zhang Yi.
Yan Fei knew that Yan Gexin would not tolerate the news. He would certainly use the situation to separate from Liu Xiangyu but for the sake of his face he would anxious about the abortion, lest some evidence point to him…He would very busy with those two things, in such a short period of time it would impossible for him to trouble Yan Fei. As for the future…Yan Fei had said he was not afraid of leaving.
Although Yan Fei was not in a position of power, he could understand the military's attitude towards power users…
If one was aware that Yan Gexin had a son with an ability, but they were not lose…some were willing to stick their noses in to stop the repair of feelings. As long as the news was released, he would not worry about what Yan Gexin could do.
Luo Xun did not know about Yan Fei's and his father's messy relationship but he did understand his lover. If he said he could solve it, that these things were not problems, then Luo Xun was willing to believe that as well.
They sat in the shade while whispering and watching the lively scene of people coming and going. The couple waited for the evening awards celebration.
The group marched back to the square that had improvised countless tables and chairs. These were not actual tables and chairs but blocks temporarily brought out by earth users.
Fortunately, after upgrading to level two the earth users created smoother and stronger blocks. No need to worry about debris, otherwise the people would have to wash their clothes at home afterwards.
The tables had been filled with plates – a victory feast of course would mean an excellent meal.
The procession continued along. There was a row of tables in front of the office building where the military bosses were seated together.
While the base leaders spoke, Luo Xun's line of sight remained focused on the food – were they not afraid of the food going cold? Couldn't they wait until after eating? Or at least wait until later in the meal?
The speeches were relatively short, soon the awards ceremony started.
First the captains of the teams went up to receive the prize followed by the teams of ability users. The host thought it was funny to tease them as the Grinding Disc team during their first public appearance.
The members of the team received their prize with half bowed heads. People mistakenly thought they were shy. In reality they were silencing their retorts: You are a donkey! Your whole family is a dusting pan!
One leader stepped forward with an award and patted Yan Fei's shoulder. "So young! Are you married?"
Yan Fei quietly responded, "I have a lover."
Luo Xun instantly flushed, the leader in front of him though his face was flushed due to nervousness and excitement.
The leader saw no frustration on Yan Fei's face and moved onto the next person.
Yan Fei's new seat was at a table but close to the podium. People recognized his calm demeanor – he really was an ability user…
Although Yan Gexin had come to the southwest base later on, he also knew that with the apocalypse the military had expanded recruitment to include ability users. But these people were only temporary help and not actually part of the military. They would be dismissed once the current work was done, unless there was need of them. It was truly a temporary position.
Yan Fei had no military relations before the apocalypse, so if he was standing there, the only explanation was – he was an independent metal ability user.
Yan Gexin took a deep breath, although he had guessed Yan Fei was an ability user, he did not think his son was one of the well known metal users working with the army…
After the exceptional teams had received their prizes, it was the turn of various smaller squads in the city.
A number of powerful ability users were also invited. They sat alone at a few tables near the podium, their casual manner contrasting with the more orderly soldiers.
When Luo Xun and the others came down, he noticed Zhang Yi in the sea of people sitting next to a woman that seemed to know him and was speaking with him.
Luo Xun maliciously smiled at Zhang Yi who had narrowed eyes – if Zhang Yi was not only interested in men, if Wang Duo knew…Next door would become very noisy.
Zhang Yi going on stage created a lot of tension, with his face and his achievements, it would definitely attract a lot of people.
After all, these past few days, few people had seen Zhang Yi close up. Others had heard his appearance was very…*Cough* Anyway, after today's celebration, many would feel that the world seemed very unreal.
When Yan Fei was on stage with other people, they were all uniformly dressed which showed his excellent appearance. But when Zhang Yi and others went up, his smile scattered peach blossoms. The leaders had darkened faces, the group of soldiers had red faces and were afraid to look directly at the stage.
Captain Guo shook his head and whispered to Luo Xun. "Your…neighbor is really something…"
A team of soldiers heard Luo Xun and interrupted, "He is your neighbor? Where do you live?"
*Pa* Captain Guo slapped a soldier's head while whispering, "Don't be an idiot! Look at that man's peach blossom eyes, jade face, smooth skin, ten of you are not enough to feed him!"
A table's worth of people choked. The soldier flushed while pointing at Captain Guo but unable to squeeze out words. He was just curious? He, he just wanted to look?!
Luo Xun was silent for a moment before deciding to help Wang Duo lessen the pressure, lest the naive dog was shoved into a corner. They were brothers after all, "He…has a lover…"
*Fwoosh* The flames of gossip were lit in the people's eyes. "What do they look like?""
"A manly woman?"
A quick glance at the podium showed that Zhang Yi had already descended from the stage – he had only come up for a moment but the atmosphere became so strange…For the sake of peace in the army, they had to quickly send him away!
"Male…" Luo Xun had just opened his mouth, the people around sucked in a cold breath.
Luo Xun heard someone whispering, "No wonder…"
"He did not feel like a normal person…"
"Yeah, what woman would dare to marry him?"
"Must find a man to pair up with!"
It must be noted that the soldiers in the army and independent ability users all felt the imbalance between the number of men to women – even the army was feeling the effects. The only time they saw a woman was when they went on a mission outside, or the small number of female water or earth users in logistics. Or family members of army personnel.
This was not a case of many wolves, little meat – more like wolf without meat. Almost like the daily life of a monk!
So inevitably, some comrades-in-arms would develop feelings beyond that of friends. Otherwise why would so many people eavesdrop about gossip surrounding Zhang Yi?
Luo Xun watched as these people exchanged glances. After Zhang Yi left the stage, team representatives went up. It was generally only the captain and vice captain who attended, the other members were not qualified.
Listening to the familiar squad names, Luo Xun compared against his past memories. It was obvious that the two teams that had caused his accidental rebirth – Blazing and Chaos had also shown up during the defensive battle.
Luo Xun's table along with other places whispered about Zhang Yi. His situation was clearly different, he came representing himself and did not say any team names. Li Tie's group and Xu Mei's trio had participated as part of the team. Luo Xun and Yan Fei were part of the metal user team while Zhang Yi was with the hospital.
Compared to the other teams, Zhang Yi seemingly a lone wolf was a tantalizing target for many people.
Zhang Yi was sitting in his seat, seemingly not aware of this. He impatiently endured the ceremony while staring at the food from time to time. Why place the food out without letting people eat? Did they not know how long it had been since he had eaten meat?!
Zhang Yi's performance had made the people at his table hesitant to woo him, at least until the boss came back from receiving the awards.
Seeing a seat next to Zhang Yi was empty, the woman he had been speaking with had left, Wu Changkun, the leader of Chaos team smiled, "Brother Zhang Yi? Long time no see."
When he opened his mouth, he went straight for Zhang Yi. All the others stared daggers – the man actually knew him? Were they too late?!
Zhang Yi glanced and thought for a moment – did not recognize him.
Seeing Zhang Yi sweep and glance and ignore him, Wu Changkun's face twisted and became more gloomy. Before he could say anything else, a sneer came from the side.
Wu Changkun turned and saw his enemy, the leader of the Blazing team, Wang Heng. He narrowed his eyes behind his glasses. "This young master has something to say?"
"Ask? To you? You think too highly of yourself. Did you P.E. teacher teach your elementary chinese class?" Wang Heng did not speak, instead the vice captain interrupted.
Wu Changkun was embarrassed from the rebuttal, he knew that he had used the wrong word but could not lose against the others. "You are top students, unfortunately did graduating college help?"
The person grinned, "This shows that eldest brother has charm, the higher students were willing to help out."
The team member beside Wu Changkun laughed, "Was it not helping in bed?"
"Ah, you want to crawl into your boss's bed, but don't have the power to…"
The people suddenly turned their attention back to the table as the woman beside Zhang Yi had hurried back.
The girl did not notice the strange atmosphere and grasped Zhang Yi's arm, "Brother Zhang Yi! Help me!!"
The table was silent and looked at Zhang Yi, who looked at her. The guys got up – drama would start soon!!
The queen was merciful and said, "Speak."
The girl's eyes were hazy with tears. "Elder brother ~ My father wants me to go on a blind date, arranged marriage. Please save me! Little sister is still young, only 21, don't want to become a housewife with child!"
Zhang Yi looked back with a face of disdain. "Your father found you a man and you come to me for what? If you had an extra leg below, I might fool around for a few days…" he despised the girl's breasts. "Not interested."
The people at the table stiffened and glared at the gay man who refused such a beautiful young girl. Such a blow to their hearts.
They thought this woman was his sweetheart! But now…what a waste! What you don't want we cannot have!!
They are confident, unmarried captains and deputies (although ability users were having an easier time finding a girlfriend). But that was only relatively speaking, who let there be so few women of corresponding age on base?
They wanted to turn up their charm and hook up with the girl, but she only cried, "I want to be with handsome brother forever, never separate while on base! I can't look upon unhandsome men. *Wu, wu, wu* I can only do this, my parents don't understand me and want me to get married! I only have you as a good friend, you must help me!!"
The tough men of the table froze, some of them had heard of rotten women before the apocalypse but almost no one had experienced it. Now they had suddenly met such a person…the pressure was very high.
Zhang Yi had given her a second glance while his chopsticks flickered towards the food. He said, "Rest assured, as long as you use this method, those men will quit." The table of straight men tilted their heads.
"But my dad said I would be locked up if I dared to speak in public!"
Zhang Yi looked up in confusion from his bowl piled with meat, "Really? Why did you come to me then? I wouldn't agree to a pretend relationship…or did you want me to hook up with your blind date instead?" Zhang Yi nodded in thought. "It won't work, otherwise my man will become jealous…"
The girl took a deep breath, "You don't have any brothers? Find one for sister to temporarily borrow!"
Zhang Yi touched his chin while sweeping the table and confirmed that nothing had slipped his bowl. "Come with me."
After the two people left, the table people took a while to unfreeze. Originally just the zombies in the apocalypse was already scary, women also became so terrible, then there was that gay…Wait a minute!!
"Holy crap! All the meat is gone! That dead demon!!"
Zhang Yi held his bowl while eating and walking. His graceful figure, beautiful face, sultry eyes grabbed people's eyes, but the big bowl of meat in his hands destroyed the image.
Of course, people were not surprised – beauties love meat. If they had the strength to let him eat everyday, it might be enough to ensnare him…
But what had Zhang Yi done? He had received military praise and rewards for his great destructive power, so no dared to find trouble with him.
Luo Xun was about to eat a piece of braised pork from Yan Fei when his shoulder was patted. He turned around, the piece of meat had fallen into someone else's bowl.
"Zhang Yi!" He already had food at home, why was he coming here?
Zhang Yi ate the piece of meat while referring to the girl beside him. "You have rich men here? Let her borrow one."
The girl nearly fell to the ground, her head lowered. He usually had the temperament of a beauty, but now it had become like this?!
Luo Xun silently looked at him, ignored and then carefully looked at the girl – familiar…was she not the woman who had been sitting next to him?
"…Please make it clear." Suddenly asking to borrow a man…Was he not afraid of being accused of kidnapping people!
The girl put down her hands, revealing a smile uglier than her tears and grabbed Luo Xun's hands. "You are Zhang Yi's lover? Hello my name is Zhu Hong, one of Zhang Yi's friends. My father has forced a blind date arranged marriage and I want to borrow a man. Came to ask for help…"
Luo Xun looked at her, stunned. Before he could respond, he felt himself being pulled back into a warm embrace – it was Yan Fei.
At the same time, a voice sounded near his ears. "So sorry, but he is my lover. As for your friend's man – he didn't come today."