It felt like a pair of invisible hands were tightly choking his neck, making it hard for him to breathe.
He was the only one in the room; it was so quiet that he could hear his own heart beating. It was slow but heavy, and with every beat, he could clearly feel a bone-piercing pain.
It was so painful that it made his teeth chatter; it drenched his whole body in cold sweats, and it turned the deepest part of his heart cold.
He instinctively raised his hand, put the cigarette to his mouth, and finally took a hard drag for the first time in a while.
Before he met her, he tried to contrast He Yuguang's excellence by smoking, drinking, fighting there was nothing he couldn't do.
After he met her and learned she didn't like the smell of cigarettes, he forced himself to quit smoking.
He was heavily addicted to cigarettes, so everytime he was in a bad mood, his addiction flared up. When that happened, he lit a cigarette just to relieve himself for a moment, but he didn't let himself smoke it unless he was particularly devastated.
He knew how to smoke, but after taking just one toke, he forgot to exhale and actually coughed.
He clutched his chest and bent over as he started to cough violently. As he coughed, he emitted a layer of mist from his eyes.
He Jichen wasn't sure when he stopped coughing, but when he came to, his cigarette had burnt down to this fingers and was about to burn his skin.
He put out the cigarette in the ashtray and slowly straightened up to look for his phone.
After Ji Yi saw that he hadn't replied for a while, she sent him another message. "Yuguang Ge, are you asleep?"
About three minutes later, she sent another message: "Goodnight Yuguang Ge, it's late, so I'm going to bed too."
He Jichen stared at the screen for some time but didn't send a reply. He put down his phone and lit another cigarette as he stared deeply at the night outside the window. It was like he was caught up in some kind of confusion and distress as he took one drag after another.
He wasn't sure just how many cigarettes he had, but he knew that in the end, his mouth tasted completely bitter. Yet he still hadn't reached a decision.
He got out of bed, grabbed a bottle of water and drank over half the bottle before he walked over to the tall windows. He stood there silently for some time but eventually headed back to the bed and picked up He Yuguang's phone. He opened WeChat and clicked on Ji Yi's name.
He read her long series of messages and was really tempted to comfort her.
But as soon as he thought about what he wanted to tell her and how he had to use He Yuguang's identity to say it, he hesitated and felt torn.
He Jichen tapped the keyboard only twice before he came to a stop.
Just like when they were young, she only revealed her true feelings to He Yuguang. If something bad happened at school, if she got into an argument with classmates, or if someone made her unhappy, she would never tell him. Instead, she went back home and only told He Yuguang.
So there were some words of comfort he wanted to tell her, but he couldn't bring himself to tell her.
He Jichen silently pursed his lips as his fingers moved again. With the "tap tap tap" of the keyboard, He Jichen clearly felt the devastation and helplessness deep in his heart.
After everything, he wished for her to be happy.
Even if he suffered for her happiness.
He Jichen stopped what he was doing and carefully read what he typed before he eventually tapped "send."