Warning: Nonconsensual kiss
Translator: Lucia Rose
Editor: Nine Knights
Claude was alone in the hospital ward with Livy, and he could not stop the small smile that helplessly escaped his lips, “How can I stop?”
“Stop what?” Miller had just walked into the room and managed to catch the former’s words. However, Claude responded by lowering his head and ignoring his question.
Miller noticed that he did not answer, and so he smoothly changed the topic, “It’s late; why don’t you want to go home and sleep?”
“What about you? Are you not going to get a bit of shut eye, too, Major Miller, the renowned workaholic?”
“Do you honestly think I’ll get any sleep until I see this guy wake up?” Miller responded as he gestured at Livy’s still sleeping form.
The two sat in silence all throughout the night as they kept a vigilant eye on Livy.
When the next morning came, Livy clawed at his hair and muttered to himself as he slowly regained consciousness, “Lilith — why didn’t you turn on the lights?” He called out in frustration.
Claude and Miller watched Livy’s dramatic display of lashing out at his AI system. It was as if the two were privy to a special one-man play, and they let the young pilot fumble around and deliver his monologue until he froze in place as realization dawned upon him.
Livy finally figured out that it wasn’t dark because Lilith hadn’t turned on the lights. Moreover, he wasn’t even in his own quarters; rather, he couldn’t see because there was a gauze covering his eyes. He felt a rush of panic rise up from inside him, and he exclaimed, “What the h*ll is wrong with my eyes?!”
He felt the beginnings of a painful migraine slowly cementing itself inside his brain as well as a terrifying coldness that seemed to permeate his irises. He could feel chills running down his spine. His hair stood up, and goosebumps scattered throughout his body. The discomfort he felt caused him to irritably reach for the gauze in an attempt to remove it.
Miller could no longer restrain himself from intervening anymore when he saw Livy attempting to escape his bindings. He stretched out his arms and held Livy’s hands in place so he couldn’t worsen his condition.
“Can’t you just stay still and not do anything to make us worry?” From the tone of his voice, it was clear that Miller was exasperated with Livy.
“Miller?” Upon recognizing a familiar voice, Livy stopped with his ministrations and slowly calmed down.
“Is this a hospital?” He asked.
“Yes, this is a hospital,” Miller let go of Livy’s hand, “Do you want me to tell you how your eye is doing?”
“How is it doing?”
“Your vitreous humor came out. When the doctor was cleaning up the glass fragments left in your eyes, he said your nerve cord was severed.” Miller’s voice was indifferent as he explained to Livy his current condition. His tone was impersonal, as if he was merely reciting an objective fact, “You’re a scrapped fighter pilot now. Thankfully, you’re already a second lieutenant; therefore, your pension will be much higher once you’re discharged. It’s just regretful that you’ve wasted so much of our time at Zone Z.”
Livy tilted his head up, and his brows creased in a twisted shape. He was unaware that Claude was also in the room, sitting leisurely in the corner with his legs crossed and quietly observing the array of conflicted emotions which flashed across Livy’s face.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Livy suddenly clutched his stomach and burst into a loud chortle.
“What are you laughing at?” Miller sported a deathly cold gaze, while Livy continued to crack open in laughter.
“I’m laughing at how much you truly love me.”
“Love you?! What kind of mental gymnastics did you go through to arrive at that conclusion?” Miller gritted his teeth and cast an incredulous look at Livy. It seemed his mind could never grasp the outer space that was in Livy’s mind.
“First and foremost, I injured my eye, so you were desperate to see me. Don’t deny it, hm? I don’t believe it’s such a coincidence that your voice was the first thing I heard when I woke up. After all, you can’t just possibly pass by the hospital and stumble upon my room.”
Miller remained silent, so Livy continued, “Secondly, if I had really gone blind, you would have never stayed here with me. The Major Miller that I know would never unnecessarily waste his time like that. I believe you would have already started looking for the next pilot. But you haven’t. Therefore, if I am really of no value to you, your presence here could only mean one thing: that you love me.”
Livy grinned triumphantly as his companion looked too stunned to even try to cut him off.
“Lastly, my adorable Miller, every time I look at you in the training room, I notice you would ever so often ‘casually’ lift up your glasses. Is it because I said you looked good without them the last time, so your heart fluttered? Is that why you feel so self-conscious every time I look at you? Is that it?”
“That’s a fallacy!” Miller could no longer stand it. With clenched fists, he spun around and left the ward in haste.
Livy happily propped his legs up against the edge of the bed, and the corners of his mouth curved up in a self-satisfied grin so wide that it threatened to split his face in half.
As Livy heard Miller’s footsteps slowly fade away, he calculated that the latter was nearing the end of the hospital’s corridors.
His once jubilant expression slowly mellowed.
The smile on his face disappeared, and his swaying legs stilled.
He hesitantly lifted his hands to cover his eyes.
His fingers grazed the edges of his eye bandages, and he remained in that position for a long time.
It was almost ironic how, one second ago, the ward was filled with Livy’s laughter, akin to a scene from a comedic movie, but now, he had stopped, frozen in place. It was like seeing a melancholic break from a dramatic film.
The air around him also thickened and mirrored Livy’s somber mood.
In the silence, Claude decided to go to his side. He then quietly traced the contours of Livy’s face. His fingers drifted down from the tip of Livy’s nose to his slightly downcast lip line.
Surprised by the sudden pressure on his skin, Livy took a long breath and shrank back under the covers.
“I really thought you weren’t the least bit afraid of going blind,” Claude’s voice rippled through the ward, like a stone newly casted into a puddle. It sounded hollow, devoid of any real emotion, but it also lacked the usual nonchalant tone Livy often heard from him. He found it rather unassuming.
Livy frowned, “How long have you been there?” His tone towards Claude was chilling.
“I’ve been here for a long time now.”
“I didn’t hear you coming in.”
Livy suddenly tilted his head when he realized something, “You couldn’t have been in here as soon as I was injured like Miller was, could you?”
“If I was, then are you also going to arrive at the same conclusion that I am in love with you and bring up points one, two and three?”
“That’s a fallacy!” Livy’s tone tried to mimic that of Miller, but it felt rather contrived, uneven and, to some extent, comical.
Claude got up and shifted closer to Livy’s bed. He then laid down on his side and rested his weight against Livy. To outsiders, it appeared as if he was looking up at him.
The major general’s eyes were fixated intently on the young pilot’s face; he continued gazing at him, wordlessly.
“Why do I get the feeling that you’re staring at me?”
“I’m not,” Claude blatantly lied. However, his gaze did not leave Livy, “……Livy, why do you always have to pretend that you do not care about anything?”
“Because I do not want to care about anything in the first place.”
“That’s a lie. Just now, you acted as if you were afraid of losing your eyes.”
“If it had been you, wouldn’t you have been afraid, too?”
“Yes, I would have been afraid. Afraid of any harm befalling upon you.” Claude whispered softly into Livy’s ear. After he did this, he left the ward while ignoring Livy’s furious countenance.
Later that afternoon, Sharon’s ex-boyfriend, Captain Gorin, was called into Lieutenant General Montel’s office. However, instead of meeting the lieutenant general, the one sitting at his desk was Claude.
Captain Gorin wore a surprised look on his face when his eyes met Claude’s. As the initial shock wore off, however, nervousness began to course through his veins, and it softened up his limbs to the point that he couldn’t help but forcefully swallow down the lump of saliva that was clogging up his throat.
“You must be wondering why it’s me in this office, aren’t you?” Claude was sporting a grin, but, despite this, there seemed to be a shadow underneath his smile. The shadow was rather pronounced and imposing; however, it did not cross the line of maliciousness.
Gorin could feel his throat closing up, and he didn’t know how to reply.
“You are a captain of the air force, an elite that rose up among a plethora of fighters and survived countless battles. I believe that your energy, your courage, and your ability should not be wasted on a woman who doesn’t love you.” Claude quietly told him.
“I’m sorry, Major General. I shouldn’t have injured Second Lieutenant Livy Van Perle’s eyes…” Gorin felt that if he was able to show the major general how regretful he was, perhaps he would be able to survive this situation.
“The reason why I called you here is not because you wounded Second Lieutenant Van Perle but because I want you to reflect back on who you are. You were promoted to captain because of your record as a soldier, not because of your jealousy and irrationality, and much less because of your pestering ways and impulsiveness. Ask yourself who you are; is the rank slide on your shoulder strap so shiny that you cannot see how you look to others? You should start acting like someone befitting your status.”
Gorin lowered his head to hide his quivering brows. For what seemed like an eternity, he could not say anything and just stood in silence. Finally, he uttered, “I understand.”
Claude nodded his head, “Then, I won’t waste my time asking you to write a self-examination report or anything like that. Off the record, I believe Livy Van Perle deserved the beating you gave to him since he did pursue Warrant Officer Sharon.”
Gorin looked as if his head hadn’t fully wrapped around Claude’s statement, “Huh?”
However, having said it once, Claude was not one who would repeat his words again, and so he simply gestured for Gorin to leave.
In the hospital room, Livy became so bored that he was starting to feel as though he was about to sprout mushrooms from his head. The whole premise was deathly silent, so much so that he even started to miss Lilith, even though it was an AI system.
When afternoon came and a nurse arrived to change the dressing for his wound as well as deliver his meals, he livened up once again. He began shamelessly flirting with the young nurse and asked her to stay and chat with him a little longer.
“Nicole, you have such a beautiful voice; did you take singing or vocal lessons before? If my A.I. at home had a voice like yours, I wouldn’t feel like it was such a torturous ordeal to be woken up by it.”
“Haha, you are a sweet talker. I didn’t officially enroll nor learn vocalization or music. However, I was part of my school’s choir as a child and sang mezzo-soprano.”
The two continued chatting for an indefinite period of time, and somehow, Livy ended up with Nicole’s hand in his. The conversation progressed to a point where the two agreed to go on a date together after Livy was released from the hospital.
It was at that moment wherein the two were engrossed in their personal exchanges that Claude entered Livy’s room. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall and sported a look of tremendous patience while waiting for Livy to finish his ‘performance’1This word was originally 唱戏 (chàng xì), which literally means ‘to sing and act in a traditional opera’. It’s a play on words, because while Livy is flirting with Nicole, Claude himself is enjoying the ‘show’ that Livy is putting on..
During their mindless chatter, Nicole managed to glance sideways and chanced upon Claude. She quickly stood up in shock and greeted him, “Major General Sien!”
Livy immediately sighed, “It can’t be; are you here to retaliate against me again?”
“Compared to what you said about Sharon and me being in a relationship, what I’m doing right now can’t even be considered retaliation.”
After he replied, Claude nodded politely at Nicole, “Thank you for taking care of this restless guy; without you, he’d probably be so bored that he would have turned the entire hospital upside down.”
Livy didn’t even need to see Nicole’s face to know that she must have been showing an expression similar to that of a young girl in love, like most women he knew did. He really hated that he wasn’t as good at ‘acting as suave’2The original Chinese was 装 (zhuāng), which literally means ‘to pretend.’ Hmm… in this situation, I guess it would mean Claude is good at pretending to be that archetype which girls like? However, in social settings, this word can also have negative connotations, such as when a person ‘pretends to be something they are not.’ The closest English equivalent of 装 would probably be ‘fake’, but I thought maybe directly using this word would be like indirectly insulting Claude, haha. (≧▽≦) as Claude. Seemingly understanding the atmosphere between the two men, Nicole picked up the used bandages and empty tray and exited quietly.
Claude crossed the room and sat down next to Livy. He then opened his mouth and spoke in an amused tone, “Even I didn’t know I was dating Warrant Officer Sharon, but Second Lieutenant Van Perle already did.”
“I was just using your name to ‘save a damsel in distress’. Look now, you’re the hero of the story and I’m the one who got injured; don’t you think you’ve already won over me?” Livy disinterestedly fell back on top of his pillows.
“Has your time in the hospital been super boring?” Claude covered Livy’s body with his; he braced his arms on both sides of Livy’s head, and his wrists almost brushed Livy’s ears. Even though Claude didn’t exert any of his weight onto Livy’s body, Livy could still feel a strong force hovering above him.
“What are you doing?” Although Livy could not see, he knew Claude was very close to him as he could feel the heat emanating from his body. He wanted to get up, but Claude poked a finger at the center of his forehead and pressed him back down onto his pillow.
“This isn’t funny at all; are you trying to compete with me in a match of strength? Are you trying to ask me to wrestle with you and see who is the stronger between us two?”
Claude let out a chuckle, “Competing with you in a match of strength doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll lose to you. I’ve also gone through all the military training, including arm to arm combat. However, I’m sure that even if I were to beat you in a ‘match of strengths’, you’d still have the same dismissive look on your face; as if it was no big deal.”
“Then get out of the way if you know that already. I don’t want you polluting the air around me.” Livy bristled with impatience.
“So, I’ve decided to do something that would vex you even more and make your hospital stay a little less boring.”
“What…” Before Livy could respond, something warm and soft covered his lips.
He froze as the seams of his lips were pried open; then something wet and soft swept across his mouth.
As soon as he felt that wetness, he seemed to have forgotten how to breathe.
His reasoning capacity was overwhelmed by the pressure and force that spilled in his mouth and wired his senses. It was as if he was floating on air, and all of his thoughts fell from rosy clouds. He had never felt something like this before; he never imagined he would experience this.
The movements of the other person’s tongue carried a seductive touch. However, as the tentative kiss grew more intense, Livy snapped out of his daze and immediately tried to push Claude off him.
‘Sh*t — what the h*ll is going on?!’
Undeterred by this, Claude grabbed hold of his wrists and pinned him in place. As he did so, he was able to control Livy’s movements. Livy’s defiant face was turned to the side as his tongue was thirstily sucked on by the other party.
This kiss, which had been initially aimed at provocation, gradually morphed into something unrecognizable that held a different meaning from its first intention.
The tip of Claude’s tongue glided against the roof of Livy’s mouth.
His actions were teasing but gentle, and it was tickling him as if inviting him to reciprocate and match his movements. However, Livy refused to acknowledge it; he just wanted to kick this guy out, grind his bones, reduce them into powder, and then scatter them away against the wind3Even though I translated this part as two physical actions, the truth is that the original Chinese is actually an idiom, 挫骨扬灰 (cuò gǔ yáng huī), which is used to figuratively describe an immense hatred for someone, i.e., the kind of hatred where one wants to grind that person’s bones down into ashes (挫骨 – cuò gǔ) and scatter them away into the wind (扬灰 – yáng huī). Since its meaning is so strong, this kind of idiom is usually found only in novels and is very rarely used in real life. Um, this seems to be the hatred Livy is currently feeling for Claude. ☠!!!
E/N: I’m not going to lie; I’m not the biggest Claude fan. Therefore, I’m going down with the Livy x Miller ship, hehe.
T/N: Aww, Nine… the tsundere Miller x Livy ship would have been so cute! (っ´ω`)ﾉ(╥ω╥)
- 1This word was originally 唱戏 (chàng xì), which literally means ‘to sing and act in a traditional opera’. It’s a play on words, because while Livy is flirting with Nicole, Claude himself is enjoying the ‘show’ that Livy is putting on.
- 2The original Chinese was 装 (zhuāng), which literally means ‘to pretend.’ Hmm… in this situation, I guess it would mean Claude is good at pretending to be that archetype which girls like? However, in social settings, this word can also have negative connotations, such as when a person ‘pretends to be something they are not.’ The closest English equivalent of 装 would probably be ‘fake’, but I thought maybe directly using this word would be like indirectly insulting Claude, haha. (≧▽≦)
- 3Even though I translated this part as two physical actions, the truth is that the original Chinese is actually an idiom, 挫骨扬灰 (cuò gǔ yáng huī), which is used to figuratively describe an immense hatred for someone, i.e., the kind of hatred where one wants to grind that person’s bones down into ashes (挫骨 – cuò gǔ) and scatter them away into the wind (扬灰 – yáng huī). Since its meaning is so strong, this kind of idiom is usually found only in novels and is very rarely used in real life. Um, this seems to be the hatred Livy is currently feeling for Claude. ☠