Defect

01.

The third regiment of the military would occasionally look for Lin An’s shadow in the space next to me.

Sometimes, when I close my eyes, a figure will appear in the depths of my mind: He was someone who was three centimetres taller than me and rather slim. No matter if he was wearing his military uniform or a windbreaker, he would always look smart. However, his handsome face was truly a waste, since he never smiled.

Solemn, serious, and self-disciplined. That was my first impression of him.

That was why I had immediately turned around and raised my hand to speak, “Commander, I would like to request a partner change.”

Truthfully speaking, I didn’t feel the need for a partner. I possessed a photographic memory; I would never forget anything I’ve seen and can clearly recall a map of the entire city. I also have extraordinary deductive skills. While others were still calculating numbers on paper, I would have already figured out the code and gone back to sleep.

If I really had no choice but to adhere to the policy of having a partner, I only hoped that person would be able to indulge and drink with me. However, Lin An was clearly the type who would confiscate my secret stash of alcohol and even report me to our superiors.

My request was mercilessly rejected.

I was extremely unhappy and refused to comply.

When practising shooting[1], I sat below the quintain[2] and calculated the location to intercept the enemies’ intelligence. A grenade whistled past my ear but I didn’t even look up and completely failed to report the location to Lin An.

Until a shadow towered above me. He had walked over to where I was and calmly said, “We need to talk. Tell me, what exactly do you have against me?”

But I didn’t want to talk. Therefore, I stood up and patted the dirt off my clothes before turning to leave. This seemed to infuriate Lin An, he quickly grabbed onto my hand and pushed me against the quintain. In the process, my head hit the back of the board. I didn’t bother hearing what he had to say, only crying out in pain.

He had swiftly let go of me.

I rubbed the back of my head while sizing him up and finally, took out a handgun. There were many bullets inside so I took one out and closed it back up before pointing it at him. “Russian roulette. You pass if you win.”

That’s right, I was simply being unreasonable, waiting for him to lose his patience and leave.

Unexpectedly, he only stared straight at me before taking another step forward until the gun was pressed against his temple.

In the end, I threw down the gun. He had won. I couldn’t do anything to him.

****

02.

Although both of us didn’t acknowledge it, Lin An and I were recognised as the best team.

Be it fighting together or cracking secret codes, our teamwork was unparalleled. There was only one aspect in which we both scored zero marks.

The psychologist would regularly check in with the squadron and each team would be assessed in the same sound-proofed room. As one of the subjects, they called it checking up on our health, but it was better known as monitoring us through whatever gaps they could. We perfunctorily replied to all of the questions, but got stuck on the last one.

“May I ask, who is the person in your dreams[3]?”

A strange question.

It couldn’t be that if I told them, they would send them over?

The psychologist laughed conscientiously, “Please answer truthfully.”

I told him frankly, “I only enjoy the violent thrill and adrenaline that comes with the mission. My innate nature does not require love.”

As for Lin An, he did not reply.

I grew impatient and jabbed him with my elbow, whispering, “Hurry up. We can leave once you answer his question. Just say anything. If you’re embarrassed, why don’t I help you say it?”

He gave me a rarely-seen glare.

Just like this, the two of us scored zero marks for attitude.

Walking out of the sound-proofed room, Lin An suddenly asked me, “Innate nature?”

His tone carried some hints of mirth, but perhaps I was overthinking matters because when I turned back, he was still the same as ever. A rascal coincidentally walking past us in the corridor laughed loudly and spoke up before I could reply, “What innate nature? He’s an emotionally-impeded patient.”

I shrugged indifferently, not even bothering to glance at him as I replied, “He’s not wrong. I’m lacking in morals and empathy, and my perceptual awareness is almost non-existent. That’s why I couldn’t be more suited for the third regiment.”

”Compared to normal people, I’m lacking in every aspect. But here, I’m a genius and there is no one better than me,” I said confidently, completely overlooking the complicated light in his eyes.

***

03.

From that time onwards, I would casually chat with Lin An about emotions.

Hiding in our double room, I drank while Lin An sat opposite me and acted like he didn’t see anything. It was this sort of mutual understanding that had allowed us to get along peacefully as a team.
He earnestly tried to explain to me what ‘love’ was, “Simply put, they are someone who you would want to kiss, and even…”

“Have sex?” I continued for him. He nodded awkwardly while I tossed out the empty glass bottle and disagreed, “How is this accurate? You only needed to greet the lad next door and he will do these things with you.”

He sank into silence and ultimately, did not give me an answer.

However, Lin An did not give up on this matter, and even seemed to have found the right answer. At that time, we were crammed together on a beam, staking out and watching a newly appointed officer. It was night time and I was completely focused on observing the situation through my scope. Hearing him mention this all of a sudden, I could not be bothered, “Why do we have to talk about this? A genius does not need feelings.”

Lin An was silent. He suddenly grabbed my shoulders and turned me around to face him.

I could not understand.

Without warning, he leaned forward and kissed me.

It tasted like peppermint and carried a hint of warmth. A small bolt of electricity ran down my back. It felt good and I couldn’t help wanting more, wrapping my hands around his neck.

In that moment, he seemed to have lost control. The hand grasping my shoulders caused them to jerk violently.

When this long kiss ended, he asked me how it felt. It was so serious, as though he was waiting for the instructor to return his examination paper.

I took my time to recall and truthfully replied, “A little sweet.”

He was silent once again. But for some reason, the tips of his ears were red.

****

04.

Lin An never told me the answer.

We had anticipated the traitor in the military, what we did not expect was the other party’s deployment. As usual, I was ordered to snipe him. The officer cadet dragged Lin An out of the door with a gun pointed at his temple. Both of them were covered with injuries.

The commanding officer cursed through his headphones while the officer cadet in front was shouting for me to put down my gun in exchange for Lin An’s life.

This was the first time I saw Lin An through my scope. He smiled and unexpectedly looked quite good. He was calm and spoke unhurriedly, “There is no point in using me as a hostage, he will not hesitate to shoot you.”

I pulled the trigger, but it wasn’t without hesitation like he had said.

Those 3.45 seconds of hesitation were enough to make me doubt the remainder of my life.

After the mission ended, all the things which belonged to Lin An were taken away from the dormitory.

The commanding officer’s tone was light when he spoke to me, “Congratulations. You can finally change your partner. With your status, you can choose someone you are satisfied with this time.”

But I didn’t have the heart to listen.

My mind was completely overtaken by him. Like a broken projector, it tirelessly replayed the scene over and over again.

I couldn’t control the memory of him lying in my arms, in a pool of his own blood saying to me, “I love you.”

These words should have been the sweetest words one could ever hope to hear. However, they only brought incomparable agony to me.

The pain in my heart felt like it was breaking me apart.

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand.

-Finished

***

Translator: Vivi from dummytranslations
Editor: Mimishijie
TL-checker: Deathbutlowkey