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morning memory exercises

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Lu Feng was born with extraordinary talent.

He was smart. He was good-looking. He was a soldier. He was a judge. He could accurately determine whether someone was infected, no matter who it was. He knew how to make the coldest and harshest of decisions without blinking an eye if it meant the better for everyone. He knew how to draw the hate on him, and yet still be able to walk through the fire and come out a victor.

He was a man of his word, a man of his duty.

Unexpectedly, he met An Zhe.

For him, An Zhe was nothing but a small creature, weak and meaning no harm; very delicate and should be handled with care. He had no means of hurting Lu Feng anyway, so he wasn’t threatened by his presence and existence at all. In the end, he, the Judge that protected humanity, was won over by his curiosity and ended up looking after the little mushroom more than he would have first liked.

It hasn’t been that long since the war ended.

With Lu Feng’s excellent memory, he could sometimes still see the fleeting images before his eyes, very vivid and perfectly embedded in his mind. There was chaos, despair, and blood all around him. You would miss the little thread of hope fluttering in the wind if you weren’t paying attention. Everyone was fighting; for their lives, for the sake of their race surviving, for their future.

And then that happened.

The Simpson Cage.

Whenever Lu Feng remembered that particular scene, he felt very suffocated. An Zhe was just a little mushroom; how could he have the heart to watch this young man walk into the fire after meeting Lu Feng’s gaze?

It was both their reunion and goodbye.

Lu Feng felt like he was going to go crazy at that moment.

He lost him, he lost the person he cared about. The only person who could forgive him no matter what. The only person who would dare look into his eyes and tell him he did nothing wrong, that he was not a bad man. The only person who would willingly open his door, and his heart to him.

Lu Feng, a sinner, and An Zhe, his only salvation.

He lost his judge.

Lu Feng looked at the person sleeping beside him, unguarded as he always did even before their peaceful days, when they were still in the midst of war for humanity’s preservation. Trusting wholeheartedly that Lu Feng would never hurt him, never dare to do something to him while he slept.

The thought of this made Lu Feng weak.

His heart felt like it was being scratched by tiny claws; tingling and giving him happiness from the deepest parts of his warm, beating heart. He was alive, and so was his little mushroom. So he sat up a little, putting his weight on his elbows as he bent down and kissed this person’s forehead.

“Mm?” A soft voice suddenly emanated from beside him, a certain someone stirring in his sleep.

The sun was rising, and through the slit of the curtains, warm streaks of sunlight greeted Lu Feng and his precious person with a good morning as they snuggled in their soft bed. White sheets moved and Lu Feng pulled the person over, holding him close to his chest.

Lu Feng’s lips curled upwards and he patted the person’s back as he said, “Good morning.”

“Mm.” From under the blankets, the youthful face of An Zhe was revealed. He rubbed his eyes, clearly still drowsy. He slowly sat up and stretched his arms, continuing to groan in his sleepy state, “Hmmm.”

Lu Feng followed him and also sat up. He grabbed An Zhe’s hands and waited for him to slowly open his eyes. It took a while, but Lu Feng didn’t care. He was amused with the way life and color slowly returned to An Zhe’s face, like a little plant regaining its vitality upon seeing the sun after a storm.

His hair was a mess, like a soft brown cloud. When he opened his eyes, they were crystal clear, reflecting Lu Feng’s figure perfectly. His lips were a thin line, neither held in a frown or a smile. His whole expression was neutral as he blinked confusedly at Lu Feng.

Slowly, Lu Feng rubbed the palms of An Zhe’s hand with his thumbs. He looked into those eyes that stared at him, stared at his soul, and then he gently said, “Your name is An Zhe.”

He put their palms together and raised it up so it was eye level to both of them. “My name is Lu Feng. I am your husband.”

“We are a family.” He tangled their fingers together, clasping tight. The warmth between their hands was proof of their connection. “I am real, and so are you. We’re both real. This world is also real.”

He then pulled An Zhe closer into his embrace—up on his lap—and began caressing his back and his head comfortingly. “I love you. I love you a lot.” Pausing, Lu Feng let An Zhe look up to him with bright eyes. Seeing this, Lu Feng smiled with ease, “And you love me, just as much.”

“You have a body. You are safe. You are not alone. I am here. I will be with you. And you will be with me. We will be together, and we will be happy.”

For the final touch, Lu Feng dropped a kiss on An Zhe’s forehead. “Good morning, An Zhe.”

For a few minutes, An Zhe didn’t say or do anything. Lu Feng waited for him to make a move, and when he felt his little mushroom snuggle deeper into his arms, Lu Feng smiled again. He always seemed to find himself smiling, happy, when An Zhe was with him.

What happened after the Simpson Cage greatly affected both of them.

For Lu Feng, who had to watch his beloved jump into the machine and turn into tiny particles in order to save the world—Lu Feng’s world—it was agonizing enough that he could hardly eat or sleep for weeks that turned to months, and then years. He was crushed, but he had responsibilities. On the outside, he appeared fine. On the inside… Even Dr. Polly knew what he was going through.

As for An Zhe, who had sacrificed himself for the greater good, it was a miracle for his consciousness to wake up in his spore, slowly allowing it to develop his former body. Every day, he grew and developed, but his consciousness was still floating somewhere in the void. The spore could feel and hear, but it could not touch and see. Waking up in the body and being able to live his life normally again—as heterogeneous with human skin—it took him a while to get used to it once more.

Sometimes he would feel like he was still floating in a chasm of boundless uncertainty, with no foundations he could depend on. His feet had nowhere to step on, so he was forever stuck in the cycle of floating and falling in the darkness. His surroundings would feel like they were carefully crafted illusions. He would feel like he was dreaming, in a trance. As a mushroom who was born firmly rooted to the ground before becoming human, this was a scary feeling for An Zhe.

Thankfully he had someone by his side to hold his hands and tell him every day that he was alive. That he was real, and that he was not alone.

If Lu Feng saw him as his judge, then An Zhe saw Lu Feng as his anchor.

As long as Lu Feng never lets go of his hand, then An Zhe was fine.

He dove deeper into Lu Feng’s hold, hugging the man’s waist as if integrating himself into the man’s body. He would if he could. Lu Feng was strong, unlike him, and he was always envious of this. However, An Zhe also knew that this strength did not come from nothing. And he also knew that this strength is used to protect him, An Zhe, and the race of humanity.

He admires Lu Feng very much.

Then, An Zhe made a move again.

He pulled away from the embrace for a bit and then looked up to Lu Feng. He smiled, his eyes turning into slits of happiness, his whole face radiating with warmth and love. He tilted his head up and kissed Lu Feng’s lips. It wasn’t a deep kiss; just a shallow one, a brief connection of their souls.

As he moved away and back into his husband’s loving arms, An Zhe greeted him back, “Good morning, Lu Feng.”

It will be another good day.