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The sun’s rays pierced the azure sea, casting a shimmer on the water’s surface as the breeze rustled the tall trees on either side, creating a gentle susurrus. As expected by Lin Feng, the riverside was largely devoid of zombies. The wide streets were empty, save for the occasional lone undead trailing behind their car.
“I’ll take the wheel. You see to him.”
“Alright, I’ll tend to her,” Hao Jian passed the steering to the school doctor and made his way to the back seat, gently placing the cat’s head on his lap. With more than enough battery to reach Lin Feng’s home, they turned on the car’s heater, choosing comfort over conservation.
Lin Feng, weary from the day’s monotony, jostled playfully with the school doctor before drifting off to sleep, his stomach content with fish snacks. Hao Jian watched Lin Feng’s peaceful expression, his lips twitching into a smile as he resisted the urge to poke Lin Feng’s puffed cheek.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Anna, snacking on an energy bar, caught Hao Jian’s outstretched hand mid-air.
“Just…,” Hao Jian trailed off.
“If you’re planning to woo Lily, being all wishy washy isn’t going to help,” Anna retorted with a smirk, then turned her attention to a book she’d been reading.
Taken aback by her bluntness, Hao Jian could only mutter a surprised “Huh.”
“That book is quite the read,” he remarked, petting Lin Feng’s hair and eliciting a purr from the feline boy as he glanced at the book’s red cover in Anna’s hands.
“It’s ‘Power and Glory!’ You might learn a thing or two,” Anna boasted, showing off the emblem on the cover before handing the book to Hao Jian.
He accepted it, flipping through the chapters:
Chapter One: Absolute Power
Chapter Two: Combat and Mission
Chapter Three: Cyka
“Thanks, but I’ll pass,” he replied, returning the book with an awkward smile, not expecting the petite woman to be so engrossed in tactics and battle.
Hao Jian and Anna, both virtually strangers, had distinct personalities—one combative, the other contemplative. Without the apocalypse, their paths would likely have never crossed.
“You’re an interesting one, junior,” Hao Jian observed, watching Lin Feng now uncomfortably curled up, using his archery uniform as a makeshift pillow and unconsciously drooling.
Out of curiosity, Liu Mengqi asked the doctor, “Why did you decide to stick with Lin Feng?”
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Dodging a zombie on the road, the doctor glanced in the rearview mirror at the undisturbed Lin Feng. “He didn’t just save my life; he gave it purpose. With him, the apocalypse doesn’t feel as grim,” the doctor confessed.
“Yeah, having a cat to pet does help,” Liu Mengqi mused, reflecting on how different her life would have been without Lin Feng.
“Exactly. Holding Lin Feng and feeling his purrs can really soothe the nerves,” the doctor agreed, smiling as she reached for her coat pocket. Instead of a cigarette, she pulled out a stick of Red Arrow gum, offering one to Liu Mengqi.
“And, I must admit, Lin Feng’s unique physiology does intrigue me,” the doctor added, chewing the gum contemplatively.