Gu Yanting had called Mom Gu to say he was coming, and Mom Gu had wanted to tell him that Tang Yi had also come, but then she forgot.
Now Gu Yanting was frozen in the living room with wide eyes and a face full of embarrassment. Mom Gu could only cover her mouth and cough lightly, smiling as if she didn’t know anything, “Xiao Yi is up? Are you feeling better?”
“Much better.” Tang Yi pinched the bridge of his nose where the frame had pressed on it and said with a smile, “Auntie, don’t worry, I have things to do tonight, so I have to go back.”
“Didn’t you agree to spend the night!” Mom Gu took the things in Gu Yanting’s hand and headed for the bedroom, “I’m still stewing chicken! Don’t leave!”
Mom Gu turned away and disappeared in the bedroom, casually closing the door behind her. The unhappiness between Gu Yanting and Tang Yi was written on their faces. The elders were not in a position to interfere at this time, and even if they could, they could only pick the faults of their own child.
Mom Gu tiptoed to close the door, nudged Dad Gu, who was napping with his back to her, and whispered, “Lao Gu, is there a problem between Yanting and Xiao Yi, ah?”
“Hmm…?” Dad Gu opened his eyes in a daze. It took him a moment to react; he rolled down the thin quilt and wrapped it around him again, “If there’s a problem, then there’s a problem!”
Mom Gu was a little unhappy and then she heard Dad Gu add, “It must be your son who is unreasonable anyway.”
Mom Gu: “……” Of course, the mother favoured her own son, but when you thought about it, Dad Gu was likely right. Mom Gu sighed for a long time and also laid down, pushing the old man, “Share the blanket with me! You’ve got it all wrapped around you!”
Tang Yi leaned against the door frame of the bedroom; his hair that had been pressed down while he slept was sticking up in an amusing mess. After he watched Mom Gu go to her room, the smile on his face drained away rapidly, his expression returning clear and cold.
It was just after two o’clock in the afternoon.
Gu Yanting originally thought that he hadn’t been home for a long time, so since he had asked Tang Yi to go there for the Mid-Autumn Festival, he would make an early trip. This idea was decided on the spur of the moment in the morning. At that time he was so upset that he even hung up on Lin Rui who called about helping him celebrate his birthday. Who knew that when he arrived home, he would open the door and see the person he never expected to see.
For a moment all the emotions and discomforts were soothed by relief. Gu Yanting stood in place for a while, looking straight at Tang Yi who was leaning against the door with a slight frown, only feeling that Tang Yi looked good everywhere, looked so good that he seemed to be glowing.
He was silent for a long time, but Tang Yi kept looking away without any intention to say anything, his gaze not turning to Gu Yanting even for a moment.
Gu Yanting came back to his senses. Like a child visiting someone’s home for the first time, he scratched his head a little stiffly, and only after half a second did he realise that he was in his own home. He rubbed his hands, cleared his throat and called Tang Yi, “You, you…”
Tang Yi turned around and went into the bedroom. While Gu Yanting was still struggling to choose which was better among “hello”, “how are you doing” and “you’re here”, Tang Yi took his coat.
He was leaving.
Gu Yanting’s brain circuit instantly picked up and he almost pounced on Tang Yi, blocking the bedroom doorway and keeping Tang Yi inside. The body is often more faithful than the mouth. For example, when he saw that Tang Yi wanted to leave, his gut reaction was to stop it. It was just like picking out coriander for Tang Yi while eating or conscientiously washing up after drinking before going to sleep, an honest and natural conditioned reflex that never needed to go through the brain.
But the words had to go through the brain. Gu Yanting gathered up his courage, sweating with anxiety, and finally two hard words popped out, “Don’t go.”
Tang Yi was just scared out of his wits by Gu Yanting’s darting over, afraid that the next moment Mom Gu would push the door open. Luckily, there was no movement next door and Gu Yanting didn’t do anything else after he rushed over.
Tang Yi was annoyed, and he put all the embarrassment and guilt he felt about facing Gu Yanting’s parents on Gu Yanting’s head. He almost gritted his teeth, frowning, “Get out of the way!”
“No!” Gu Yanting looked at him suspiciously and then turned his head to look at Mom Gu’s bedroom door and pleaded in a low voice, “Don’t go, okay?”
In their relationship Gu Yanting rarely begged. He had been quite disdainful of this kind of behaviour since Stage 2(1), almost as if not begging was included in the rules and regulations of being a man. But he didn’t expect to break the rules many times recently.
Ever since that night when he tremblingly asked Tang Yi if it was okay not to break up, Gu Yanting felt that some kind of integrity had been stripped away from him. But it was a pity that Tang Yi was amenable neither to coaxing nor to coercion, and now his expression became more and more impatient.
Gu Yanting was not very good at begging and cajoling people, so he stopped halfway and changed it to “I’ll go, I’ll go later.”
“No,” Tang Yi closed his eyes, took a step back away from him and finally gave him a straight look, “Anyway, I won’t be coming in the future, sooner or later I’ll have to say goodbye.”
“Since you won’t even be coming in the future, can’t you stay with them for one more night?” Gu Yanting hurriedly said that and only halfway through the sentence did he suck in a breath of cold air.
Won’t be coming in the future?
As he thought back and forth, it suddenly dawned on him that this was his own home, and that Tang Yi had broken up with him, so of course he had to break off his relationship with everyone around him. His mind was so preoccupied that he automatically filtered out the key words “never cross our ways again and not communicate with each other until we die of old age”.
When Gu Yanting was in school, his teacher often used the term “boiling a frog in warm water” to describe the process of a person being trapped. A stock falls for two days in a row and on the third day it stops. As long as there is an opportunity, there will be a large number of people selling frantically. For quite some time after that, they will take a detour for fear of a repeat. But the stock goes down little by little, people will hold on to it with a “wait and see” or “it’s okay” mentality until they are deep in the hole.
Most people who invest in the stock market don’t understand economics, they operate on their own instincts and every move they make is a direct response to their inner greed and anger. This applies to life as well. Tang Yi’s coldness towards Gu Yanting could be traced back to a year and a half ago, starting with occasional impatience and sleeping in separate beds, later evolving into increasingly frequent cold wars. Gu Yanting’s dependence on Tang Yi was getting heavier and heavier, but Tang Yi was pulling back to make himself more and more sober.
“No… Tang Yi, you….” Gu Yanting repeated it twice, staring at the wary man in front of him in a daze. Tang Yi’s expression at the moment was not at all like someone’s who had shared the same bed with him for three years, and the cold phoenix eyes carried a trace of disgust.
Gu Yanting was silent for a while, but still said, “I’ll sit for a while and then leave. Dad has been looking forward to seeing you for half a year. If you never come again, just stay with him for half a day more, for the sake of him caring for you.”
He didn’t want Tang Yi to refuse, so he added, “After all, there are plenty of chances for me to come here later.”
Tang Yi’s weaknesses were not many, but they were obvious. His understanding and emphasis on the word ‘kindness’ was different from that of ordinary people. Gu Yanting’s greatest gain from being with him for three years was this knowledge. He knew that if he said that, Tang Yi would definitely hesitate.
Sure enough, a hint of shame flashed across Tang Yi’s face.
Gu Yanting raised his hand, took a step back and knocked on his parents’ door, “Mom, I’m just coming back to bring you guys something. I’ll leave after dinner!”
Mom Gu listened for a moment, understanding that these two couldn’t make up for the time being, and could only go along with it, “Okay, then I’ll cook early and you’ll leave early!”
Tang Yi rubbed his brow with a headache. One little voice in his heart was screaming, “It’s the last time you’re here, spend more time with Dad Gu”, while the other coldly snorted and mocked, “This is Gu Yanting’s home and not yours!” As the inner battle raged, Mom Gu opened the door, and then Dad Gu carefully poked his head out and glanced at Tang Yi.
“Xiao Tang doesn’t need to go back, right?”
Tang Yi hesitated for a moment.
“Are you feeling better?”
“Hey! One more game then?” Dad Gu laughed and magically held out the small chess box again.
Obviously “one more game” didn’t accurately sum up Dad Gu’s thoughts, so Tang Yi focused and played carefully against him this time, and the two of them played all afternoon. The advantage of this was to avoid the embarrassment of facing Gu Yanting. The latter was serving tea and pouring water throughout the process, his silent gaze occasionally falling on Tang Yi and drifting away before he noticed. Obviously, his quality of watching chess was several times higher than that of Mom Gu.
The chicken soup that Mom Gu stewed was learned from her square dancing mate(2), with wild celery and astragalus put in, and needed to be simmered for more than three hours. It was just that there was too much wild celery and the smell coming from the kitchen was not of a chicken soup but of a Chinese medicine. Mom Gu immediately felt she had suffered a great loss of face. While chanting ‘what’s wrong, ah? It’s not the right smell, ah!’ she called Gu Yanting to go with her to buy chicken and vegetables again.
After all this fuss, it was after six o’clock when dinner was finished.
The sky began to darken, and there was a stretch of the road from the Gu family’s house that was not easy to walk and there were no street lights. Gu Yanting had a bit of a negative image of this place after his accident in the first year of high school, and now when he saw that it was dark, he was startled for a moment and grabbed his bag to leave.
Tang Yi suddenly felt that he was a dove occupying the magpie’s nest. It clearly should be him leaving at this time.
Mother Gu took out a flashlight from under the coffee table and hurriedly handed it to her husband, “Hurry up, go and send Yanting off! What if it gets dark soon and you can’t see the way!”
Dad Gu was still pondering over the unfinished game on the coffee table when he heard her say that and tsked, “It’s not dark yet! It’s still early!” Mom Gu frowned and then heard Gu Yanting suddenly say, “No, Mom, just let Tang Yi send me off.”
Tang Yi was hesitating whether he should say goodbye and leave or not, and he froze for a moment at these words.
Gu Yanting lowered his head to change his shoes without looking at him. It seemed to sound like a natural thing to say. Mom Gu turned her head to look over.
“Okay,” Tang Yi took the flashlight and paused, “let’s go.”
The autumn breeze was getting stronger. It had been just over half a month since the day Tang Yi took a taxi from KTV. The goosebumps that had risen on his arms when he saw Gu Yanting escorting Lin Rui into the taxi that day were once again here in an almost demonstrative manner.
When Gu Yanting turned and saw that he wasn’t wearing a coat, he took off his own and was about to drape it over him. Tang Yi saw this and stepped aside, putting some distance between them two.
The sky was not yet dark, and the last rays of the sun were still shining mercifully on the world. When the two of them walked out, there was some space between them, but their stretched shadows overlapped. After Tang Yi took a step backwards, he turned his head and glanced at the shadows on the ground. He thought it was not enough and took another step back, watching the long shadows separate completely. Then he raised his head coldly and gestured for Gu Yanting to continue walking.
Gu Yanting held his coat without saying a word as he watched Tang Yi’s movements; after a moment of looking at him with a complicated expression, he silently turned away.
They reached the bus stop soon and it was not yet completely dark when they got there. Gu Yanting’s face was hidden in the shadows, gradually becoming somewhat blurred. He said to Tang Yi straightforwardly, “There are few people on this bus. Sometimes it only comes once an hour, so if you can’t, go back first.”
Tang Yi clearly felt the expectation and trembling in Gu Yanting’s words. A bus coming once an hour could be interpreted as that it was not worth waiting too long, let him go first. It could also be understood in the way that it was too lonely to wait for the bus alone, so he asked Tang Yi to stay and keep him company.
Tang Yi could still catch Gu Yanting’s expectations from his groping words, but at this moment he had no interest in accommodating him. Tang Yi nodded politely, “Okay.”
When Gu Yanting glanced back again, Tang Yi was already walking away in large strides.
When Tang Yi returned to the Gu family, Mom Gu had already gone to the square dance. He played a few more games with Dad Gu, but again lost repeatedly. When Dad Gu was contentedly taking a break, Tang Yi also explained his intention.
“Uncle Gu, in the future I may have a job transfer and I won’t be able to visit you and Auntie as often, so take care of your health.”
Except for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Tang Yi barely came here three or four times a year, so this “as often” didn’t mean much. If he had said this to Mom Gu, the latter would have quickly understood the implication. Unfortunately, Dad Gu took the words at face value, not knowing that there was a deeper meaning to them, and nodded readily, “Don’t worry! We’re both in good health!”
The various pretexts carefully prepared to round up the lies didn’t need to be used, and saying goodbye was far less difficult and solemn than he had imagined. Tang Yi finally breathed a sigh of relief.
However, just ten minutes after the new game had started he heard Mom Gu open the door and return, yelling, “Lao Gu! It’s raining!”
As the rain slammed down, Gu Yanting, standing next to the bus stop with his bag on his back, looked around and finally trotted a few steps to hide under the awning of the kiosk not far away.
Because of the road construction here, the shuttle bus came once an hour, and the latest one was at eight o’clock in the evening. Today he had been standing here for two hours, but there was no sign of a bus, so it looked like he wasn’t going to leave.
Gu Yanting leaned against the wall behind him and instantly gathered the grey wall dust on his shoulders.
He didn’t want to go back home. The way Tang Yi treated him was almost like a living plague; as soon as he went back, the latter would be bound to leave in the rain. But there were no small hotels around here either, and the only one, which was actually owned by his own family, was also closed for the day. Gu Yanting sneezed, wrapped his clothes around him tighter and curled up in front of the kiosk.
Mom Gu, whose eyelids had been throbbing all night, looked out to see that it was raining harder and harder outside and called Gu Yanting in worry.
Gu Yanting looked at his phone and saw that it was running low on battery, so he said he was home and hung up. Mom Gu let out a sigh, obviously believing it.
Who knew that three minutes later, Tang Yi would also call.
“Auntie asked me to ask, have you arrived home yet?” Tang Yi’s voice was warm, cool and clear, and Gu Yanting held back a sneeze that was about to burst out, busily nodding repeatedly, “I have, I have!”
Tang Yi didn’t say anything.
The sound of rain changed from a drizzle to a clatter. Gu Yanting rubbed his nose and shrank further into a dry place. Who knew that Tang Yi would hear the little noise.
“Where are you?” Tang Yi said suddenly, “you haven’t left yet, have you?”
A very obvious declarative sentence, in the tone Tang Yi would use only when he was certain of something. Gu Yanting subconsciously wanted to admit it, but then he suddenly thought of Tang Yi’s disgusted expression when he was about to leave, and his coldness that demanded that even their shadows were clearly separated.
He laughed twice, pretending to be relaxed and said, “How is it possible, I arrived home early and was about to take a hot shower!”
“Then take it for me,” Tang Yi’s tone was bland, “just turn on the tap and let it pour.”
“……” Gu Yanting looked up at the rain and then down at himself, “Tang Yi…”
“Come back.” Tang Yi sighed, “This is your home.”
Gu Yanting ran all the way back home in the rain with his bag in his arms. Mom Gu, who opened the door, was taken aback, apparently unable to make a connection between her son at home taking a shower and her son running back soaking wet.
Gu Yanting only said vaguely that he had left something particularly important behind, and then went into the bathroom sneezing.
When he came out again, the lights had been turned off in the living room. There was a gap in the door of the second bedroom, and Gu Yanting opened it carefully, wrapped in a bath towel.
Tang Yi had already gone to bed, wrapped himself in a quilt and squeezed against the wall, so there was enough room to put one more person in the middle of the bed between the two of them. On his way back, Gu Yanting’s mind was filled with Tang Yi’s sigh.
This is your home.
So this is not my home.
In Gu Yanting’s eyes, Tang Yi’s orphan status was not fundamentally different from Lin Rui’s single parent status. He had followed his classmates to an orphanage when he was at the university, playing games with a group of young kids or doing crafts with them.
But it was hard for him to find Tang Yi’s shadow in those timid, fearful-eyed children. Tang Yi was more like a nobleman who grew up in a wealthy family and whose parents divorced when he grew up, rather than both dead. Tang Yi had always been gentle and wise, rarely showing negative emotions.
In this regard, Fat Sod once shook his head smugly. He said that sometimes the more misfortunes a person had suffered, the bigger his smile was. Because he knew what pain was and didn’t want others to experience it too.
Gu Yanting admired Fat Sod for a while after this bullshit remark, until Fat Sod felt so good about himself that he started selling chicken soup all around and finally sold a piece of rat shit.
The meaning of that rat shit was that easy-to-get was not a good word. You see, easy is cheap, which means that things that are easy to get will not be cherished too much, and will be spurned sooner or later.
Fat Sod then gave Gu Yanting a very soddish look and said, “Boss, Sister-in-law was just too easy to get for you, so be careful.”
That drunken midnight, Gu Yanting fumbled with the phone and called Tang Yi in a daze, and when he realised that the two of them had broken up, his mind remembered the ironclad, straightforward words of Fat Sod.
So he said, “Tang Yi, let’s not break up, okay?” There was another sentence that Tang Yi didn’t hear, and Gu Yanting only said it to the air.
“Tell me where I did wrong, can’t I change it? I’ll cherish you well from now on.”
Gu Yanting walked into the bedroom on tiptoe, shutting the door gently and locking it behind him. Tang Yi had left a small table lamp for him, and underneath it was a small blue book. Gu Yanting glanced at it from afar and saw the title: “Walden”.
The light from the lamp was very soft, and Gu Yanting slowly dimmed the brightness. When the light was so faint that he could barely see the outline of things, he gently sat down on the bed and then lay down behind Tang Yi.
Tang Yi wrapped himself into a bundle in the quilt, exposing only his head outside, with his back to Gu Yanting. Gu Yanting lay down very carefully, and when he turned his head, he could see the back of Tang Yi’s dark head.
The autumn quilt was still thin, and Tang Yi’s long, slender body was very eye-catching even being wrapped. Gu Yanting was at first worried about the status quo of the two of them; but when he turned his head and saw Tang Yi lying on the other side of the double bed and smelled the refreshing aroma of Tang Yi’s usual shampoo, somehow an evil fire sprang to life inside him.
He didn’t dare to move casually, so his deep eyes gradually turned dark and heavy, staring at Tang Yi’s back intently. In his mind, all he could think of was the past two of them laughing and fighting in bed. The last time Tang Yi came here, Gu Yanting waited for his parents next door to fall asleep and woke Tang Yi up in the middle of the night like a violent beast.
The look of those beautiful phoenix eyes slightly narrowed when they were making love was Gu Yanting’s favourite, and under the sound of gurgling water, Tang Yi’s unconscious moans could make Gu Yanting’s legs go weak for a long time.
Gu Yanting also had the opportunity to lie next to Lin Rui, not long after confessing his love and being rejected. Lin Rui was drunk at a party and Gu Yanting sent him home. Lin Rui’s mother was not there that day, and his stepfather was tumbling into the bed of some young starlet. Lin Rui was so drunk that he pulled Gu Yanting in and wouldn’t let him go. He later stripped naked and got under the covers himself, clutching Gu Yanting’s wrist the whole time.
Gu Yanting turned his head away as if his face was burning, and after being pulled by Lin Rui to lie down, he spent the whole night cautiously thinking about pulling his wrist back.
When he went to send Lin Rui back, the gang at the party all heckled ambiguously. After a few days, everyone found out that Gu Yanting actually just tried to free his wrist all night. All of them laughed, stomped their feet and patted their thighs. What’s more, they asked Gu Yanting if he wanted to go to see the andrologist.
Facts proved that not only was Gu Yanting not impotent, but his abilities and finesse in certain areas could be considered the pinnacle. Tang Yi usually dressed strictly, with shirt buttons buttoned to the top, and his black-rimmed glasses made him appear even more solemn. After Gu Yanting had gotten the taste for it, the most important thing was to attack while Tang Yi was still fully clothed and ascetic, semi-forcibly pushing him down and tearing his clothes.
In the lives of the two of them, Tang Yi had absolute sovereignty over both big and small things, but in this aspect of life, he had never disregarded Gu Yanting. Gu Yanting occasionally pointed at ‘Gu Xiaoting’ triumphantly, leaning down to Tang Yi’s ear with a smile and whispering, “Even if there is no connection between us, it’s all we need to keep us going.”
The night was getting thicker, and the sound of the rain outside was full of ambiguity. It had been more than a month since the last cold war with Tang Yi. For the first time, Gu Yanting found the night so difficult, and the man who was making it difficult for him to sleep was so close, the scent of temptation emanating from his bones as he breathed evenly and lightly.
Gu Yanting gritted his teeth and tugged at his trousers, took two deep breaths and waited for the thin sweat on his body to show signs of subsiding before gently moving towards the middle of the bed. Seeing that it didn’t wake the sleeping man, he turned over again, propped his head up with his arm, and put his other arm vaguely across the quilt, encircling Tang Yi’s waist.
Tang Yi had taken off his glasses and his phoenix eyes were now gently closed. Under his straight, pretty nose were thin, tightly closed lips. Gu Yanting stared at his sleeping face solemnly and moved forward a little bit, his arms tightening subconsciously, trying to hold Tang Yi. But he was afraid that he would wake Tang Yi up and it would result in a cold frown like during the day, so he reluctantly let go.
It didn’t take long for the arm propping up his head to get sore, and he felt a little sleepy. Gu Yanting looked greedily at the half of Tang Yi’s face buried in the quilt and couldn’t bear to move. After holding on for a while longer, he felt a little out of breath.
Tang Yi moved slightly, and Gu Yanting was taken aback and hurriedly lay down flat. He straightened his arms and legs, held his breath and closed his eyes in one go, but although he moved quickly, he still made some noise.
Tang Yi moved for a moment but didn’t react. Gu Yanting held his breath for a long time and finally let out a long, quiet sigh of relief.
Then he heard Tang Yi say very calmly, “Stay away from me, Gu Yanting.”
“……” Gu Yanting was a little guilty, and a little inexplicably annoyed.
Tang Yi had already changed to lying on his back. He stretched out his hand and gently patted the quilt. Gu Yanting noticed for the first time that Tang Yi was still wearing clothes, then followed Tang Yi’s movements and found that Tang Yi was patting the place he had just cuddled.
“You didn’t sleep?” Gu Yanting couldn’t help but ask.
Tang Yi’s reply was a little less belligerent; he gave a low “en”. “Didn’t sleep deeply.”
He didn’t sleep deeply, so it meant that he was aware of everything that had just happened. Gu Yanting froze for a moment, sensing that in the darkness Tang Yi seemed to have become a lot more easy to talk to. For a moment he had a lot to say but didn’t know where to start.
He pulled another quilt from under his feet and covered himself with it, waiting for his body to warm up before asking sullenly, “Can’t we just live together?”
Tang Yi was silent for a moment before answering, “No, we can’t.”
“Is it because of Lin Rui?”
Gu Yanting wasn’t quite able to understand Tang Yi’s thoughts so far.
He had briefly come into contact with people from the circle before, and it was really only normal to see the right people take a look at each other and go get a room. Sometimes there was chatting in all kinds of groups, travel, sea, shopping, food; the greatest merit of these groups was to let everyone meet different people from all walks of life and then send chrysanthemums for thousands of miles.
The people like him and Tang Yi, living a peaceful life, were a minority. Being each other’s first love and first partner, so strict that they didn’t even need sustenance objects(3), was even rarer.
But he knew that whether he understood it or not, if they didn’t get over Lin Rui’s hurdle, Tang Yi would really never come back.
Gu Yanting pondered for a moment and said in a small voice, “If it’s all about that, I can see him less.” He thought about it again and said with some difficulty, “I can also… try not to see him.”
Tang Yi lay motionless in place, his breathing not even changing a little.
After a long time of silent confrontation in the darkness, Tang Yi suddenly sighed softly. Gu Yanting felt that was the last bit of confidence he had, and if Tang Yi didn’t relent, he really didn’t know what to do.
Tang Yi still spoke, saying, “Isn’t Lin Rui your heart and soul? How can you say you’ll just abandon him?”
“He’s not as important as you are,” Gu Yanting found the key to the problem in his heart and said hurriedly, “I’m still… I don’t want to break up with you yet.”
“But I want to break up.” Tang Yi said, “Without Lin Rui, I don’t want you either.”
“……” Gu Yanting clearly felt the pain in his heart, spreading through his whole body in a huge cold wave.
“Yanting, sooner or later I will accept a new relationship. Maybe you should try too, try to accept someone else.” Tang Yi kept his eyes open and looked at the ceiling, as if he had made up his mind about something, “No matter how good the past is, it’s over. I don’t want to hold on to it, so don’t remind me.”
The next morning, Tang Yi ate his last breakfast at the Gu family’s house and said goodbye to Gu Yanting’s parents.
Gu Yanting suddenly developed a high fever last night. He lay in bed and Mom Gu brought the porridge for him, just to see that Gu Yanting’s face turned pale and miserable overnight.
“Mom, Tang Yi… is gone?” Gu Yanting spoke hoarsely, blocking the sunlight above his head with his hand and asking Mom Gu with his eyes half-open.
Mom Gu had never seen him so weak before. Although she knew it was just a cold from the rain, her heart still ached as her nose felt sour. She nodded, not knowing what had happened to these two who used to be very close, and could only say truthfully, “Gone, it’s just been five minutes.”
“Then look at what he brought.” Gu Yanting said slowly, word for word, “Is there… anything for me?”
Mom Gu was unsure, but after wiping the corners of her eyes and urging him to eat his porridge quickly, she still went to the living room as he wished.
Tang Yi brought quite a few things, a few nutritional products for Mom Gu, several medicinal herbs such as old mountain ginseng soaked in alcohol for Dad Gu, and a box of chess with a mellow texture. Mom Gu couldn’t help but feel a bit distressed as she brought the items over one by one. Any one of these items would cost several thousand. Tang Yi bought so many at once, how much money could he make in a year?
This was because he didn’t want to take advantage and be a freeloader!
Mom Gu sighed and didn’t know what to say, so she could only continue to look. Finally, she saw a luggage bag. On it were the three characters ‘Gu Yanting’.
“Yanting, there really is!” Mom Gu lifted the bag, which was quite heavy, so she dragged it into the bedroom with an effort, “Mom will put it here for you. Do you want me to open it for you?”
Gu Yanting lay motionless on the bed, and when his eyes fell on the luggage bag, he squinted violently as if he had been scalded.
“No,” he said in a dumb voice, “I’ll look at it myself.”
Tang Yi returned to T City just in time for Shen Fan to drive to pick him up. The Shen family was in C City, which was not far away and could be reached in two hours by plane. After her divorce, Shen Fan’s mother had opened a teahouse in C City, and later got the tea assessor’s certificate and then used her contacts to raise the level, slowly turning the teahouse into a high-class clubhouse.
There was no shortage of real ladies in the circle who would come here, with graceful bodies and elegant manners, ranging in age from thirty to sixty or seventy. All of them paid great attention to their status and their voices were as light and soft as if they were soulstealers(4).
Shen Fan attentively bought a gift from Tang Yi in advance, according to his mother’s preference: a pair of jade bracelets that a friend had won at an auction. Although Tang Yi was well versed in the ways of the world, Shen Fan’s mother’s vision had been cultivated over the years and he didn’t want Tang Yi to spend a fortune nor did he want Tang Yi to be hurt in case his purchase didn’t meet his mother’s eyes and her expression showed something as a result.
Knowing Shen Fan’s good intentions, Tang Yi accepted it without insisting. Then before going to the airport, he bought two valuable pens from the mall and stuffed one into Shen Fan’s hand.
“Hey, why do you bother?” Shen Fan did like to use fountain pens on a regular basis, but it wasn’t exaggerated to the point of using luxury goods for this. It seemed a bit out of place for Tang Yi to do such a thing, making him feel weird.
Tang Yi looked at him, smiled and didn’t say anything.
Shen Fan took the pen and looked at it again, only to find that Tang Yi had actually chosen the ef (extra fine) tip. It was quite a surprise to Shen Fan that he could buy him a nib suitable for writing in Chinese after such a quick trip in.
Tang Yi saw him being taken aback for a moment, obviously noticing, so he smiled and explained, “I bought it for someone else and got another for you by the way.”
Only then did Shen Fan notice that what he had was a bare pen and a complimentary ink from the shop. What Tang Yi was holding was a carefully wrapped box and a handbag.
“Hey, who are you giving it to?” Shen Fan couldn’t help but glance at him, asking sourly, “Such a big gift, what’s it for?”
“A return gift,” Tang Yi smiled, “For the one of ninety-nine roses.”
Shen Fan followed Tang Yi to the airport with a shocked expression on his face before he realised that what Tang Yi said was true. Zhou Hao was wearing a trench coat, holding a little dignified child on his arm and a suitcase in his hand.
The father and son looked like models stepping out of a magazine. Zhou Weiwei obviously had chocolate in his mouth, his big eyes darting around, and his round cheeks puffed out, making him look like an innocent little hamster.
Zhou Hao, on the other hand, was wearing light-coloured slacks and a trench coat of the same colour that was a little longer than his knees. He held Zhou Weiwei on one arm, while his other hand was stuck idly into the pocket of his trench coat, as if the child’s weight of several dozen pounds was not even worth mentioning.
The mature charm that accumulated over the years was more dazzling than simple handsomeness. Between people coming and going, many men and women couldn’t help but look at him frequently. Zhou Hao’s deep, cold eyes were expressionless until he turned around and saw Tang Yi walking up to him with a smile. Then the corners of his mouth turned up slightly, his face like winter snow in spring melting into an expression full of tenderness and sweetness.
That expression gave Shen Fan a jolt. He followed behind Tang Yi vigilantly and then saw Tang Yi handing the handbag to Zhou Hao.
“Tang Susu, I missed you!” Zhou Weiwei laughed so hard that his eyes were turned into crescents. He jumped over from Zhou Hao with a grin and hugged Tang Yi’s neck with a loud and clear smacking of his lips.
The child’s mouth still had chocolate on it, and his saliva printed on Tang Yi’s cheek was sticky, making Tang Yi smile bitterly.
Tang Yi raised his head and met Zhou Hao’s smiling eyes. Just as he was about to say hello, he saw Zhou Hao slightly lower his head. A refreshing aura wrapped around him unexpectedly.
Zhou Hao followed Zhou Weiwei’s dexterity in hugging Tang Yi, pulling Tang Yi into his arms. Then with a light chuckle, he also pressed his lips to the place where Zhou Weiwei had just smooched.
The dry, warm kiss fell gently and left quickly. Tang Yi’s body stiffened when he heard a low laugh in his ears, “I missed you too.”
1) Stage 2 of the relationship: Power Struggle.
2) In China, square dancing or plaza dancing, is an exercise routine performed to music in squares, plazas or parks. It is popular with middle-aged and retired women who have been referred to as “dancing grannies” in the English-language media
3) It seems to be from Psychoanalysis: social interactions, sports, hobbies, etc.
4) Sorcerers chanting magical incantations over people in order to steal their souls.