For nearly a week, Zhuo Yue’s entire life consisted of eating, bathing, reading, doing housework, obeying commands, and receiving training. His world had shrunk into a house, where he had no privacy, rights, or autonomy and was completely cut off from his previous life.

       He stood in front of the mirror, looking at himself naked. He couldn’t even remember what he used to look like under the spotlight and in front of the camera. Everything in the past seemed to have become a distant and vague illusion. The applause, screams, cheers, and rumours had all been stripped away from this body. The man who dominated everything tore open his skin, pulled out the childlike child he curled up in, and led him through the dark, shrouded path. Fang Mingyan had seen him at his worst, knew all his weaknesses, and controlled every part of his body. This man had powers that could easily destroy him, yet he had always used that power to protect him.

       When he was around Fang Mingyan, his heart was calmer than ever before, as if everything had become simple and pure. For the first time, he tried to be his true self without reservation, for the first time, he trusted another person wholeheartedly, and for the first time, he willingly gave everything to him.

       Changes were subtly taking place.

       He didn’t know when it started, but his eyes began to stay on Fang Mingyan unconsciously for a long time. Every expression, every movement, every command affected his gaze. He was becoming more and more accustomed to being by each other’s side. Even if he had free time, he wanted to stay within sight of each other.

       Such as this moment.

       Zhuo Yue gently tapped on the door with a green tea in hand, and upon hearing a “come in” from inside, he pushed the door open.

       Fang Mingyan was reading the stack of newcomer information faxed by his secretary. Zhuo Yue put the tea in his hand, went to the bookshelf to get a book as usual, and sat quietly on the sofa to read. There were probably more newcomers participating in the selection this time, and Fang Mingyan had been working at his desk. However, this book, ‘Analysis of Film Art Expression Techniques’ was too theoretical and looked very boring. The room was as warm as spring, and Zhuo Yue couldn’t help but feel sleepy. His eyelids slowly drooped, and the neat handwriting became blurry shadows, indistinct and unclear.

       After this period of conditioning, his sleep quality gradually improved. Although he still woke up from time to time in the middle of the night, he was able to guarantee at least four or five hours of deep sleep every day. At this moment, tiredness came over him. He glanced vaguely toward the desk, then leaned softly on the sofa and fell asleep.

       In a trance, he fell into a dream.

       In the quiet night, the wind stirred the branches and made a rustling sound, and the sound of unknown animals came from the deep woods. He was awakened by the cry, and when he opened his eyes, he found that he was in a stone cave, naked, but warm underneath, as if wrapped in a black scarf. The difference was that the ‘scarf’ had black scales. He moved; the ‘scarf’ also moved, and the scales rubbed against the skin, making it slippery. Immediately afterwards, the huge object beside him also moved, and the mountain-like figure of the dragon enveloped him. He raised his face and saw the slowly opening blood-red eyes, but those eyes were full of tenderness. It circled him with its long tail and gently covered him with its wings.

       “Sleep, don’t be afraid.”

       It seemed to say something like this. Zhuo Yue said “Okay”, stretched out his arms to hug the tail, changed into a comfortable position, and fell asleep again.

       Dreams and reality alternated in the blurred boundary. The world was turned upside down and awakened those in deep sleep.

       When he opened his eyes, Zhuo Yue was still in a state of delirium, staring blankly at the man in front of him. After more than ten seconds, he gradually woke up and found that he was holding the man’s arm. Immediately embarrassed, he hurriedly gave up his hand and said, “Master, I’m sorry…” When he sat up, he found that he had a thin blanket on his body. Based on the dream just now, it was obvious that when the other person covered him with a blanket, he took the initiative to hug his arm. Zhuo Yue tried to explain awkwardly, “I just fell asleep and thought I was in a dream, so…”

       “What did you dream about?” Fang Mingyan asked.

       He blushed and whispered, “Dream of a dragon.”

       The man curled his lips, put his hands on the back of the sofa, held him between his arms, used one knee to prop up Zhuo Yue’s slightly separated legs, and said, “Tell me what it did to you.”

       The man’s knees were pressed between his legs through a thin layer of blanket, deliberately rubbing the sensitive parts gently and sometimes heavily. Zhuo Yue’s face turned red when he was provoked, “It didn’t do anything… Just slept…”

       Hearing his answer, Fang Mingyan chuckled. He leaned forward slowly, forcing Zhuo Yue to lean back on the back of the sofa. His fingers caressed his red ears. His deep voice had a special magnetism that made people’s hearts beat faster, “You are getting more and more courageous. You dare to sleep with others behind my back, huh?”

       His tone was like that of a child having a tantrum, with some unreasonable arrogance and a possessive desire to dominate.

       It felt like there was something soft in the heart like a flower stamen stained by rain and dew. Zhuo Yue looked up at him, with a smile in his dark eyes. He put his arms around the man’s waist, put his head on his chest, and said, “I was wrong, Master.”

       The man curled his lips silently and touched his head.


       Every night at nine o’clock was the hardest time for Zhuo Yue. He had to stay in a cage in front of a camera pointed at him.

       This was Fang Mingyan’s therapy—letting him spend some time with the camera every day and gradually extending the time according to his ability to bear it so that he could reduce his fear through repeated adaptation and habituation.

       It seemed to be working well so far. Zhuo Yue had become much calmer from the panic-stricken initial self. Although his limbs were still stiff and uneasy, at least he could maintain his basic posture for more than twenty minutes.

       Provided that his master was present. Fang Mingyan was like Zhuo Yue’s compass when he was lost, guiding his course all the way south.

       “Let’s start. Recite the short text you just read.” The cage was brightly lit at night, and the man was sitting on a single sofa, playing with a slender red cowhide soft whip in his hand.

       The naked Zhuo Yue knelt in the middle of the thick carpet in a standard posture, constantly thinking about what he had just read in his head. However, the camera placed not far away made him restless and unable to concentrate at all. He pursed his lips and began stiffly, “Time slowed down as the man and I stood by the window. We looked at each other, but neither of us spoke. It felt like I could see from his eyes… fireworks, a bustling firework scene. I want… I want…” After reciting it to this point, he could no longer remember the next sentence, and his eyes unconsciously turned from the man to the cold machine. Suddenly, a bit of sharp air passed by the ear, and the soft red whip rubbed the ear and was thrown heavily on the carpet, making a muffled sound.

       This whip made Zhuo Yue jump with fear. He immediately turned his attention back to the sofa and muttered, “Master…”

       “What order did I give you?” Fang Mingyan looked at him calmly.

       “Keep watching you until… I finished reciting the text.” Under the pressure of the camera, sweat broke out on his back, and his fingers behind his back were twisted into a ball.

       “Where were you looking just now?”

       “I was wrong.” Zhuo Yue tried his best to suppress his physical discomfort and keep his condition stable, and he begged, “Master, can you give me another chance?”

       The man threw the book in front of him and said coldly, “If you can’t memorise it this time, you will sleep here tonight.”

       Zhuo Yue’s body trembled slightly, his lips tightened, and he answered softly, “Okay.”

       This passage wasn’t long, and remembering these sentences wasn’t difficult for him, who was used to memorising scripts. However, under the gaze of that terrifying lens, just controlling himself to stay normal took too much effort. Every part of his body resisted. His blood seemed to congeal, feeling cold even though sweat dripped from his forehead. His eyes stared at the book, his brain repeatedly admonishing himself to remember those black words, but his memory was like an old car that just wouldn’t start no matter what.

       He wanted to do well, but he couldn’t do it well.

       Fear silently eroded his body, and he pushed himself to the limit in his urgency and self-denial. The nightmare grabbed his throat and choked him. Zhuo Yue’s hand holding the book began to tremble uncontrollably, his face became paler and paler, and finally, he arched his body in pain and let out a whimper like a small animal.

       “Zhuo Yue! Look at me, take a deep breath…” The man’s voice came to his ears, like the thunder that drove away nightmares on a summer night. His body fell into a hug, and the cold body was wrapped in warmth. Zhuo Yue opened his eyes with difficulty and saw a crack in the calm expression on Fang Mingyan’s face for the first time. This man who had always been strong and confident now showed a nervous and worried look, which distressed him. Zhuo Yue reached out and hugged him back as if he wanted to comfort him. He said with whitened lips, “I’m fine…”

       Fang Mingyan frowned deeply, took him out of the cage, carefully placed him on the big bed in the master bedroom, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and asked, “Do you feel any discomfort?”

       Zhuo Yue shook his head.

       Seeing the colour returned to his face, the man relaxed slightly. He sat down next to him, stroked his head, and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t grasp the progress well.”

       Zhuo Yue lay down and shook his head silently again. He looked at Fang Mingyan with deer-like eyes and spoke slowly, “It felt like I could see a bustling fireworks scene from his eyes. I want to stay with him like this, watching the changing seasons, the intermingling of day and night, the majestic mountains and rivers, and the moon shining over the frosty rivers. I still want to be with him until time blurs our outlines, turning from unforgettable to forgettable. I’ve made up my mind about this, and it took all my courage.” After he finished speaking, his eyelashes grew. Trembling, “I recited it, Master.”

       The man didn’t speak for a long time, and there was a warm light in his black eyes. He caressed the face that looked a little tired and finally leaned over to kiss his forehead.

       “You did well, slave.”

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