Li Mingxuan couldn’t remember how many times he redialled the familiar number along the way, but no matter how much he called, the mechanical “No answer” always came out of the receiver.
Li Mingxuan’s heart sank to the bottom a little, but the missed call was like a thin thread holding him, preventing him from sinking completely.
In the midst of this indescribable torment, a sweet beep sounded from the intercom, and the plane was about to take off. Li Mingxuan stared at his phone in silence for half a second before choosing to turn it off.
The distance between Haicheng and Zhongjing was not long, only an hour’s flight. Li Mingxuan had made this journey countless times in the past, but not once had he felt it was so slow. Li Mingxuan stared unconsciously out of the window. The night sky was dotted with stars, like blue velvet studded with countless sparkling diamonds. Such beautiful scenery was rarely seen by people living in the city, but Li Mingxuan had no thought of appreciating it. All that lingered in his mind was the phone call he had missed.
What did Shen Xi want to say to him?
This was a question Li Mingxuan asked himself countless times, and he desperately wanted to know the answer. Even though Shen Xi might have been just politely greeting him, there was always a voice in Li Mingxuan’s mind that faintly but firmly repeated that this call was important to him, as if he had lost something vital by missing it.
“Shen Xi,” Li Mingxuan muttered the name in his heart and let out a silent sigh.
At 2am, the three people singing finally put down their microphones and the only sound left in the private room was the sound of background music.
Lao K slumped on the sofa contentedly, his voice hoarse as he shouted to Shen Xi, “Xiao Xixi, why don’t I become a singer too?”
Shen Xi lazily gave him a glance and teased, “I’m worried there are no such indiscriminate fans.”
Fang Luowei who was drinking a glass of water wanted to laugh when he heard these words, but resisted, his face flushed.
Lao K pounced on Shen Xi, demanding him to admit that he was his fan.
Shen Xi didn’t expect the sudden weight of Lao K on top of him. He grunted and was about to break free when Lao K suddenly stopped moving with a puzzled look on his face, “Did you hear anything?”
“What?” Shen Xi asked.
Lao K listened intently for a long time, then suddenly reached out, picked up Shen Xi’s bag and fished out Shen Xi’s mobile phone.
The screen was glimmering faintly, and a quiet ringing tone sounded continuously as the words “Li Mingxuan” were reflected in Lao K’s eyes.
Lao K hesitantly held the phone and handed it to Shen Xi, who frowned invisibly, pushed Lao K away and walked out of the room with the phone.
Fang Luowei looked over curiously, “Who would be looking for Shen Xi so late?”
A trace of seriousness flashed in Lao K’s eyes, and he said with a headache, “Li Mingxuan.” After saying that, he thought that Fang Luowei might not know Li Mingxuan, and immediately added, “Shen Xi’s cousin.”
Hearing the name “Li Mingxuan” once again, still associated with Shen Xi, Fang Luowei subconsciously looked towards the door of the private room, a hint of something strange flickering in his heart.
The soundproofing of the Congress was well done; Shen Xi found a secluded corner and pressed the call button, placing the phone to his ear.
Li Mingxuan did not expect the call to be answered after he had already been disappointed countless times and was in a momentary trance when the three words “on the line” were displayed.
No one spoke on either side of the phone, and the two were silent as they listened to each other’s soft breathing. Li Mingxuan came back to his senses and wanted to speak, but suddenly didn’t know what to say. Unable to suppress his thoughts, he had frantically rushed back to Zhongjing from Haicheng overnight. In the torment of gains and losses, everything came down to the most ordinary greeting, “Xiao Xi, I’m back.”
“Xiao Xi, I’m back.” A few short words contained too many emotions, burrowing into Shen Xi’s ears. Shen Xi subconsciously asked in return, “Why did you book such a late flight?”
In the silent night, the surprise in Shen Xi’s words was clearly heard by Li Mingxuan. Li Mingxuan fell silent and said softly a few seconds later, “Suddenly I remembered something.”
Shen Xi frowned; a thought flashed through his mind and he asked hesitantly, “Are you in Jingtai District now?”
Li Mingxuan smiled bitterly and gave a low “en”.
Shen Xi only felt that this “en” seemed to land on his heart. Some emotion rose up from the bottom of his soul, and after two irritable steps, Shen Xi heard his own voice, “Wait for me, I’ll be right back.”
Simply hanging up the phone, Shen Xi was about to return to the private room when he suddenly saw a series of missed calls on his phone. Reaching out and tapping on it, he saw that all the calls came from the same number, starting from 9pm last night and continuing until now, with only a short gap of an hour in the middle.
Shen Xi’s eyes were complicated as he stared at the calls, brushing his fingers over them one by one and finally choosing to delete them all.
Back in the private room, Lao K was about to make a comeback after a short break when Shen Xi interrupted them, “I have to go back first.”
Fang Luowei looked at Shen Xi in surprise. Lao K thought of something, glanced at Shen Xi suspiciously and said tentatively, “Li Mingxuan is back from his business trip?”
Shen Xi nodded, and Lao K insisted, “Now at your doorstep?”
Shen Xi gave Lao K a wry smile, and Lao K immediately reached out and made a zipping motion over his mouth, indicating that he hadn’t said anything.
Fang Luowei’s gaze swept between the two, vaguely understanding what was going on, and a hint of sadness that even he couldn’t explain slowly welled up in the bottom of his heart.
Shen Xi didn’t linger much, and turned to leave after giving a few words of explanation.
Behind him, Lao K stared at his hurriedly departing figure with a hint of worry in his eyes. But on second thought, since Shen Xi was so perverted, it was probably Li Mingxuan who should have been worried. Lao K’s mood turned to the better again, and he dragged Fang Luowei to sing a love song with him.
Fang Luowei was forced to sing one song after another with Lao K. What he couldn’t stand was that Lao K insisted on pinching his voice to sing female parts.
While Fang Luowei was tortured by Lao K, Shen Xi sped up the car to 200, and the signboard of Jingtai District was already faintly visible from afar.
A few minutes later, Shen Xi parked the car downstairs, heard a voice, and a straight figure in front of the apartment building slowly walked over. Under the dim yellow street light, Li Mingxuan walked out of the darkness step by step. Shen Xi sat inside the car and only felt his heart beat inexplicably fast.
Trying hard to suppress the hint of strangeness in his mind, Shen Xi opened the car door and stepped out, flashing a smile at Li Mingxuan, “Cousin.”
The man he had missed all the way was standing right in front of him, and Li Mingxuan’s heart was swirling with all kinds of complicated emotions, but in the end, he just returned Shen Xi’s smile as he always did.
The two of them went back to the apartment as usual, showered and changed clothes. Li Mingxuan sat on the bed, silently watching Shen Xi put away his things. He had rushed back from Haicheng overnight in one breath, but after seeing Shen Xi, the intensity dissipated a little, and his father’s reminder appeared in his mind once again.
It was as if the struggle of the past ten days had continued into the present, and Li Mingxuan laughed bitterly, silently.
Shen Xi was oblivious to Li Mingxuan’s strangeness. After putting away his clothes, he naturally climbed into bed and rubbed against Li Mingxuan’s side.
“Is Cousin not sleeping yet?” Shen Xi’s voice sounded muffled, with a vague hint of drowsiness.
Li Mingxuan gave Shen Xi a gentle look and lay down beside him. Shen Xi obediently squeezed into Li Mingxuan’s arms and reached out to hug him. Li Mingxuan’s heart skipped a beat when Shen Xi seemed to feel uncomfortable in his position and moved in his arms, accidentally touching the place he shouldn’t have.
A hard object stood abruptly against Shen Xi’s lower abdomen, and both of them froze at the same time.
Shen Xi was the first to react and his body slowly started to move backwards, while Li Mingxuan’s heart sank a little with Shen Xi’s movements. He had been suppressing his feelings in front of Shen Xi, fearing the rejection and disdain that Shen Xi would feel if he knew the truth. Now that Shen Xi’s actions had said it all, Li Mingxuan only felt his heart fill with bitterness.
He watched Shen Xi’s movements in silence until Shen Xi left his embrace and their eyes locked.
To Li Mingxuan’s surprise, there was no rejection in Shen Xi’s eyes as he expected, but rather an indescribable oddity.
“Cousin, are you GAY?”
This sentence was simply a question, and Li Mingxuan nodded in silence.
The odd look on Shen Xi’s face became even more obvious, “Does Cousin like me?”
It was still simply a question, and Li Mingxuan looked at Shen Xi’s face close at hand and nodded with difficulty.
Shen Xi seemed very surprised. He looked at Li Mingxuan in astonishment and then laughed at himself, “What can Cousin like about me?”
Li Mingxuan saw Shen Xi’s expression and his entire heart seized. Almost subconsciously, Li Mingxuan reached out and hugged Shen Xi. Shen Xi instinctively tried to push Li Mingxuan away, but Li Mingxuan refused to let go and instead hugged him even harder.
Shen Xi began to struggle seriously, but Li Mingxuan encircled him in his arms and confined him firmly. Not caring about Shen Xi’s struggle, he lowered his head and whispered in his ear, “Xiao Xi, you are very good, I like you.”
These words were like a mantra, and Shen Xi’s movements stopped as he lay stiffly in Li Mingxuan’s arms.
Li Mingxuan hugged the man in his arms tightly, distressed, and a little while later Shen Xi’s low voice reached him, “Cousin, do you really like me?”
Li Mingxuan said softly but very firmly, “Yes!”
The man in his arms fell silent, and a moment later, Shen Xi’s voice rang out once again, “Will you leave me, Cousin?”
Before Li Mingxuan could answer, Shen Xi smiled self-deprecatingly, “When I was a child, my mother said she liked me, my grandfather said he liked me, and my uncle said he liked me, but they all ended up leaving me.”
Although the leaving of the people Shen Xi mentioned did not correspond with him, Li Mingxuan still had a sour taste in his heart.
After giving Shen Xi a gentle kiss on the forehead, Li Mingxuan said in a low voice, “Elder Han and the others left because they had no choice. I will not leave Xiao Xi, whether in life or in death, I promise.”
Li Mingxuan’s words did a good job of comforting Shen Xi, who took the initiative to rub against his arms and let out a low muffled sound.
The moment he made his promise, Li Mingxuan’s eyes fell gently on Shen Xi, and all his past struggles and hesitations vanished. He knew he had chosen an extremely difficult path. His father, his mother, his uncle and Shen Ji, none of them would probably approve of them being together, but he could not help himself, he just wanted to be with Shen Xi.
While Li Mingxuan could not see, the corners of Shen Xi’s mouth slowly curved up to reveal a pleasant smile.