It was only September but the night breeze couldn’t wait to soak up the chill.
Tang Yi settled the bill at Ali’s front desk, and when he looked up, he saw Gu Yanting escorting Lin Rui into the taxi.
Lin Rui’s long, bright, peach blossom eyes were slightly curved towards Gu Yanting. Above his head, Gu Yanting’s hands were blocking the door. It was a pair of well-boned hands, usually carefully maintained, but now silently covering the door panel in a complaisant gesture.
Tang Yi was about to walk out of the door when his footsteps stalled. His expression was not fully formed yet but his feet subconsciously retracted. The temperature difference between inside and outside was so intense that he shivered and goosebumps rose on his exposed arms.
The elevator behind him dinged, and a few buddies who had gone to the toilet together came out helping each other. The one in the lead, a chubby man with a bald head, saw Tang Yi at the door and gave a ‘tsk’.
“Hey, Sister-in-law, waiting for us, na?”
Tang Yi paused slightly, and when he turned back he was already smiling, “Yeah, I was afraid you guys fell into the pod, so I’d have to go back and fish you out!”
Tonight was a welcome-back party for Lin Rui. After they picked him up at the airport, they went straight to Ali KTV in a blaze of glory.
Tang Yi didn’t know them well, but in the past few days he and Gu Yanting had a bit of a conflict. Tang Yi was thinking of finding a chance to break the ice with Gu Yanting, so he hurried over there after the meeting in the evening. It was just that he hadn’t eaten any lunch or dinner and his stomach was twitching. So when he saw Gu Yanting singing with Lin Rui in a private room, his eyes full of affection, the idea of breaking the ice vanished.
With all this uproar, everyone had a bit too much to drink. They all had to take a taxi back. Tang Yi had been under a lot of pressure these past few days and after drinking on an empty stomach his intuition was not good. When he was about to leave and was going to call a taxi, Gu Yanting, who sat beside him, raised his hand and said, “I’ll do it.”
Tang Yi had rarely seen him so considerate, so he was taken aback for a moment. Thinking that Gu Yanting was also remorseful, he went to settle the bill.
When he went out, he saw the previously described scene.
Gu Yanting’s eyes hadn’t been on him in the first place.
Tang Yi pressed his stomach and sighed in pain. He slowed down and waved his hand at the others, his expression unchanged. “You guys go back slowly. Fat Sod, you’ve had the least to drink, send them home before you go.”
The man snapped to attention in response, “Promise to complete Sister-in-law’s mission!!!”
Tang Yi shook his head and laughed a little, turned and walked forward, “I’ll go with your brother to send someone off first, otherwise I’m afraid your brother will follow someone and never return.”
The four men behind him hemmed and hawed, Skinny Monkey nodding drunkenly and yelling, “Not really! Sister-in-law! Someone else can’t, but if Lin Rui wants to abduct Brother, he will follow him, la!”
He was really drunk and thought he hadn’t made a point enough, so he added showing his tongue to his ‘la’.
Tang Yi was still laughing, but Fat Sod’s face changed. He was busy gagging his friend, saying to Tang Yi with a smile, “That was before, but now with Sister-in-law around, Brother Gu wouldn’t dare.”
Tang Yi waved his hand and walked to the taxi, heading to the passenger side and saying as soon as he sat down, “Chief, let’s go.”
He smiled softly; reflected in the rearview mirror, the smile was a bit fake, like a painted skin, hanging helplessly and decadently on his face.
Tang Yi and Gu Yanting were together for three years and Tang Yi knew about Lin Rui’s secret garden-like existence before they started.
At that time Lin Rui went abroad to continue his studies. Before leaving, he went all the way north from Guangzhou to Shanghai, participating in a dozen face-to-face gatherings plus send-off. Most of the school’s affairs were left to Gu Yanting to handle. Gu Yanting ran here and there and had to wait until they were on their way to the airport before he was able to have a proper word with the super popular guy.
At that time, Tang Yi was still an ordinary friend of Gu Yanting and sat in the same taxi with him to see Lin Rui off. He sat in the passenger seat, while Gu Yanting and Lin Rui sat side by side in the back.
“Have you confirmed everything? Is someone coming to pick you up over there?”
“Yes, my dad arranged it all for me.”
“Thank you, you’ve helped me out so much. I’ll treat you to dinner when I get back.” Lin Rui smiled; the man was good looking and well-spoken. His well-proportioned skeleton was accompanied by the beautiful facial features, which really made people feel good to look at.
In contrast, Gu Yanting’s reply was a bit stilted, “Don’t mention it. Feel free to call me if you need anything.”
Lin Rui went to Australia, and Gu Yanting’s English had never passed Level 6. There were no relatives or friends there who could provide substantial help either. These words were from the heart but were also bullshit.
Unfortunately, the party concerned did not feel it and had a solemn face.
Lin Rui smiled. Tang Yi saw a flash of disdain in that smile in the rearview mirror, and felt a little sullen in his heart, and also a little heartbroken for Gu Yanting.
Gu Yanting accompanied Lin Rui here and there at the airport every step of the way. Tang Yi had known him for a short time and originally liked him a bit. At this moment, Gu Yanting looked like a small animal about to be abandoned. It was pitiful, and Tang Yi suddenly felt protective and decided to confess his feelings.
Tang Yi was preparing his lines in his mind when Gu Yanting finally grabbed Lin Rui who was about to pass the security check, plucked up his courage and gave him an implicit vow, “Lin Rui, I’ll wait for you to come back. When you come back, if… if you can promise to be with me, I will come out of the closet and get married with you. ”
Tang Yi’s eyebrows wrinkled slightly; he didn’t say anything but in his heart he sighed and pitied Gu Yanting a hundred times.
— Lin Rui obviously didn’t have any interest in him, was he so stupid to be used as a spare tire (fallback guy) like this!
— Even if Lin Rui came back and said yes to him after three years, how would he get married to someone? Go abroad to tie a knot? Or do you want to get a fake licence that “doesn’t cost 199 but only 99”?
Tang Yi’s heart was filled with ridicule, helpless at Gu Yanting’s misguided and foolish attitude.
That vow was also thrown into the back of his mind.
After all, at that time Tang Yi only wanted to give it a try with Gu Yanting; he didn’t think about the future, let alone how he would behave in case Lin Rui did return one day and he and Gu Yanting were not separated by then.
The taxi quickly slid into the expressway, and the speed of the car increased sharply. At night, there were few cars on the expressway. Damn it. Tang Yi’s smile was blown away by the wind, and slowly the cracks grew bigger and bigger, until his expression turned a little distorted.
Tang Yi turned his head, raised the car window, rubbed his face and heard the conversation behind him.
“You’ve been doing quite well these past few years, haven’t you?”
“Pretty good, what about you?” Lin Rui’s voice hadn’t changed much, just like his face, as if he had done some advanced preservation.
“Me, I’m fine, just like that!” Gu Yanting said breezily, “It feels like the last three years haven’t passed. Tonight, when Fat Sod showed off his singing skills, listening to that awful tune, I felt like I haven’t graduated yet.”
Lin Rui obviously agreed with this and got excited as well, “Yeah, yeah, I was afraid you guys wouldn’t recognize me anymore. Hey, how come Fat Sod is still singing out of tune…”
“He, ah…” Gu Yanting let out a low chuckle and began to tell the scandalous stories about these guys.
Tang Yi rubbed his face and lowered the car window again.
The bunch tonight often ate and drank with Gu Yanting, and although Tang Yi didn’t classify them as friends, he never gave them the cold shoulder and cooked for them a few times. He considered himself to be on good terms with them.
However, at this moment, he was completely confused by the topic of Gu Yanting and Lin Rui’s conversation.
It was the names he knew, yet he had never heard of these things, let alone been involved in them. It was as if his connection with them was only that simple as those few meals. It’s just that after the meal, sooner or later they have to poop, and after that the relationship seems to be gone.
Tang Yi pinched his brow and thought to himself that the recent project was too tricky, that was why he actually felt a bit world-weary, not good, too bad.
The road was unobstructed all the way and the taxi slowly stopped next to the garden community where Lin Rui lived. This community was developed by Runhua, a well-known big real estate developer in China. It had a whole lot of opulence everywhere but the night lighting inside the community was rather dim.
Gu Yanting got off first to get the luggage and, when Lin Rui came down, took a look at the community a little hesitantly, “Why is your community so dark?”
“There are tenants on the ground floor. The property management said that if the lights are too bright, it will affect the rest of the people on the ground floor,” Lin Rui smiled and took the suitcase from Gu Yanting. His other luggage had been handed over to Lin Rui’s mother who had come to the airport. Now it was just a compact hand luggage case. Tang Yi looked at the “R” on the case; it was exactly the same as the one he had seen before.
“Come on, I’ll take you in. You went crazy with these bastards before you got over your jet lag, and got drunk, too.” Gu Yanting said a few words and turned his head to look at Tang Yi, “Tang Yi, I…”
“You guys take your time. I still have something to do, I’ll go first.” Tang Yi propped his forehead on his hand, looked at the rearview mirror and saw Gu Yanting’s dark eyes at a distance. Without waiting for the two to react, he turned back to the taxi driver and said softly, “Let’s go, Chief.”
“Okay, where are you going?” The driver was in a happy mood. Seeing that Tang Yi was the only one left in the car, he also opened the chatterbox.
“Young man, your face doesn’t look right! Are you not feeling well?”
Tang Yi’s hand had never left his stomach. At this moment, his face was white and a little scary, whether from anger or from pain. He took a moment before trying to take a gentle breath.
“Go to the hospital, any hospital will do.” Tang Yi leaned back in his seat wearily, thinking: true love is back.
— What to do? Why not break up then?