Lu Lingxi had a dream. Although he didn’t remember most of the contents after he woke up, he seemed to have seen Yan Yue in his dream.
When he thought of Yan Yue, Lu Lingxi’s face reddened slightly. He got up a little embarrassed and changed his yellow duck underwear, not daring to think about why Yan Yue appeared in such a dream. While Wang Shuxiu hadn’t gotten up yet, Lu Lingxi sneakily went to the bathroom and washed his underwear, hanging them in a place he thought was hidden, not wanting Wang Shuxiu to see them. He knew that this was normal, but he couldn’t help but be embarrassed.
While he was doing this, Dahei was quietly following him around, looking at him with gentle eyes.
Lu Lingxi was a little embarrassed to be seen, knelt down and said to Dahei, “This is another of our little secrets and we won’t tell anyone else.”
Dahei squinted and licked Lu Lingxi’s chin, and Lu Lingxi curled up the corners of his mouth and smiled faintly.
Because of the dream about Yan Yue and waking up to find out that he had had a wet dream, Lu Lingxi looked a little unnatural when he saw Yan Yue at Tiny Garden. Although he told himself that he didn’t remember most of the dream and that he saw Yan Yue perhaps because he knew him best, Lu Lingxi still couldn’t help but feel some shame when standing in front of Yan Yue. He had never been very good at disguising his emotions, so Yan Yue could see his abnormality at a glance.
Yan Yue raised his eyebrows thoughtfully; the way Lu Lingxi looked at him made his heart itch. Lu Lingxi looked a little guilty and was blushing, as if he had done something bad. Although Yan Yue didn’t know what Lu Lingxi had thought of, this look of the young man only made Yan Yue want to do naughty things to him or tease him.
Yan Yue hooked the corners of his mouth; knowing full well that Lu Lingxi was avoiding him, he deliberately kept appearing in front of Lu Lingxi.
“Xiao Xi, isn’t it time to water this pot of caryophyllum?”
“Xiao Xi, I think this pot of golden pothos is better with that pot?”
“Xiao Xi, what do you want to eat for lunch?”
As the day went on, Lu Lingxi’s little grievance about the morning not only didn’t lessen, but was getting heavier and heavier. The time had just reached seven o’clock, and he couldn’t wait to go home. But before he could pack up, Yan Yue stopped him, proposing to go to the plant nursery in the evening. The reason Yan Yue gave was very legitimate: Yu Xiaojuan’s land rent contract had already been signed and it was time for them to prepare for the construction of the greenhouse. So it was time to go ahead and look at the plans and ask Uncle Li what he thought. The existing greenhouse at Tiny Garden was a bit rudimentary, so should they follow suit and upgrade it too?
The expression on Yan Yue’s face was so serious that Lu Lingxi couldn’t find a reason to refuse and had to reluctantly talk to Wang Shuxiu. Watching Yan Yue go to the car, he scratched Dahei’s chin somewhat distractedly, hesitating for a while whether to pretend to fall asleep when he got in the car later. He was already a little unnatural in front of Yan Yue because of last night’s dream, and Yan Yue today was particularly… Particularly what, Lu Lingxi couldn’t find the right words to describe. In short, he felt a little strange in front of Yan Yue and wanted to hide like an ostrich.
Yan Yue quickly drove the car over, and Lu Lingxi was about to get in the car when he suddenly froze in surprise.
Yan Yue saw his astonishment and explained, “That car was taken back to Zhongjing by Ye Kang and was replaced with a new car.”
The new car was still black and the configuration was slightly worse than before. But Lu Lingxi didn’t care much about it. Yan Yue kept an eye on his expression, and at the sight of how indifferent he seemed, a smile slowly spread in his eyes.
When Ye Kang returned to Zhongjing, he would let out the news that Yan Yue was planning to go abroad to recuperate. Then he would move out of the Yin family’s house once An Jie arranged the place next door to Xiao Xi. By then, with Ye Sange’s help, it would not be so easy for his father to find him. There would be enough time for him to solve one of the most important things in his life.
Yan Yue looked at Lu Lingxi intently. If it had been in the past, Lu Lingxi would have been too dull to feel anything. But now he felt guilty facing Yan Yue and his reaction became somewhat sharper. Under Yan Yue’s burning gaze, Lu Lingxi uncomfortably turned his head and looked out the window with equally “intent” gaze.
Yan Yue laughed silently and withdrew his eyes to look at the road ahead. Without the pressure, Lu Lingxi secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Halfway through, the wind began to pick up outside the window and the sky turned vaguely cloudy, as if it was about to rain. Yan Yue hooked the corners of his mouth in satisfaction. He had always felt that the weather forecast in China was ridiculously inaccurate, but this time it was finally accurate for once.
“It’s going to rain.”
Lu Lingxi looked out of the window with some worry. It hadn’t rained in Fengcheng for almost half a month since the last big rainstorm. The air in Fengcheng was very dirty during this time, full of floating dust. He still remembered the pollution from the last rain and was a little worried that this time would be the same.
Yan Yue misunderstood him and coaxed as he drove, “There’s a place to stay over in the plant nursery and a change of clothes, so even if it rains, there’s no need to worry.”
It was better if he didn’t say it, but as soon as he did Lu Lingxi suddenly thought of the embarrassing situation when he had gotten up this morning. What if he had a dream that night as well? Lu Lingxi blushed and looked out the window, only to feel the tips of his ears burning.
Lu Lingxi dared not turn his head and nodded haphazardly at the window.
At the red light, Yan Yue stopped the car and rubbed Lu Lingxi’s hair with his hand, saying softly, “What’s wrong?”
Lu Lingxi shook his head awkwardly, embarrassed to say that he was worried about having a wet dream of Yan Yue at night. Yan Yue couldn’t guess what he thought, but looking at the young man’s blushing face, he felt his heart soften into a puddle of water.
When the two of them arrived at the plant nursery, it was already raining heavily outside. The trip was very difficult, the sky was dark and the road was in bad condition. Yan Yue was worried that something would happen and drove very slowly all the way. He actually regretted it a little, not expecting the rain to be so heavy. The weather forecast said only moderate rain, but this was clearly the rhythm of a rainstorm. Originally he had only wanted to use the rain as an excuse to keep the young man by his side in the plant nursery, the two of them staying alone together. But with such heavy rain, he was more worried about the boy’s safety than anything else. Luckily, the journey was safe.
From a distance, the two saw that something seemed to have happened in the village. Many people gathered outside with flashlights, doing something.
Yan Yue drove over, and Uncle Li walked over hesitantly with his umbrella. The only people who would come to the village at this time of day were Yan Yue and Lu Lingxi.
“Xiao Xi, stay in the car.” Yan Yue instructed, “I’ll go and see what’s wrong.”
Lu Lingxi nodded obediently.
Yan Yue got out of the car with his umbrella. Uncle Li was a little surprised, “How come you’re coming over in such heavy rain?”
“It wasn’t raining when we left.” Yan Yue explained, “What’s going on up ahead?”
Uncle Li sighed, “The big willow tree at the entrance of the village was struck by lightning, the blow rattling the whole village. The electricity is also gone, so everyone gathered here to see what’s going on.”
Yan Yue had seen before the big willow tree Uncle Li mentioned; it grew not far from their small courtyard. It was said that the willow tree had been growing there for almost a hundred years. Its trunk looked as thick as two adult men, and one man couldn’t even wrap his arms around it. The last time he and Lu Lingxi went to Uncle Li’s house for dinner, they talked about the tree and the young man even joked that if they had a bigger plant nursery in the future, they would cut saplings from this old tree to propagate. He heard that people in the vicinity did this, saying that the small willows propagated by this tree grew very lush and healthy. No one expected it would be struck by lightning this time.
“It’s a pity.” Uncle Li shook his head.
Because this willow tree had grown for a long time, some superstitious old ladies in the village called it a sacred tree and would come to burn incense under it and tie red cloth strips around it on New Year’s Day. Uncle Li didn’t say anything, but in his heart he actually believed it. Generally speaking, the most common trees in the countryside are willow, elm, birch and so on, and among them willows are usually the shortest-lived. But this willow tree had lived for almost a hundred years, so when Uncle Li thought about it, he felt it was extraordinary.
But even though it was extraordinary, it was still struck by lightning. Uncle Li muttered and changed the subject, “You and Xiao Xi haven’t eaten yet, have you? Let’s go, everything is ready to eat at home.”
Yan Yue had brought a lot of food with him in the car when he came, but he didn’t expect the power outage, which was a big problem. Even if they didn’t go to Uncle Li’s house to eat, they still had to borrow a candle. Yan Yue thought about it and didn’t refuse. However, he looked at the people gathered in front of him; the car couldn’t drive through, so he could only walk with Lu Lingxi. He nodded politely to Uncle Li, “I’ll park the car in the plant nursery before coming over with Xiao Xi.”
As soon as Uncle Li finished speaking, he saw the car window behind Yan Yue open, and Lu Lingxi and Dahei squeezed together and poked their heads out, looking curiously ahead. “Uncle Li!” Lu Lingxi called out affectionately, staring ahead in confusion, “What’s going on over there?”
Before Uncle Li could say anything, he saw Yan Yue striding over with a black face and an umbrella. While putting the umbrella over Lu Lingxi’s head, he said sternly, “Didn’t I tell you to stay in the car? What if you catch a cold in the rain?”
Lu Lingxi had waited in the car for a long time for Yan Yue to return, so he couldn’t resist opening the window to see what was going on outside. He didn’t expect to be lectured by Yan Yue as soon as he opened the window, and in front of Uncle Li, by the way, so he immediately shrank back, a little embarrassed.
Uncle Li laughed, thinking that Yan Yue was watching the child too closely. But when he thought of how thin the child looked, as if ready to be blown by the wind, it was true that it would be bad if he caught a cold. He didn’t say anything else, signalling that he would go back and get them dinner first, so that Yan Yue and Lu Lingxi could come over later.
Yan Yue nodded, and Lu Lingxi curved his eyes at Uncle Li through the window and shrank back again.
After folding the umbrella, Yan Yue got into the car. Without waiting for him to speak, Lu Lingxi flashed a radiant smile at him. Yan Yue had a smile in his eyes, but the expression on his face didn’t show the slightest hint of it. He reached out and touched Lu Lingxi’s hair; feeling that it was not wet, he put his mind at ease.
Lu Lingxi looked at him obediently and whispered, “Big Brother Yan, you haven’t said what happened there?”
Yan Yue said patiently, “That big willow tree in the village was struck by lightning and the villagers were gathered around to see what was going on. Let’s park the car at the plant nursery first and go to Uncle Li’s house for dinner later.”
When Lu Lingxi heard that the willow tree had been struck by lightning, he couldn’t help but glance towards that side. Yan Yue knew what was on his mind and coaxed, “Let’s go to see it later after dinner.”
The corners of Lu Lingxi’s mouth curled slightly and his eyes curved in a smile.
The two of them parked the car at the plant nursery, and Yan Yue got out of the car first and went to pick up Lu Lingxi with his umbrella. There was a lot of mud on the ground in the village, so Yan Yue opened the door, leaned down slightly and said to Lu Lingxi, “It’s not easy to walk on the ground, let me carry you.”
Lu Lingxi refused and blushed a little, “I’m not a child.”
Yan Yue’s gaze was gentle as he offered his hand to Lu Lingxi. Lu Lingxi obediently took Yan Yue’s hand, and the two of them shared an umbrella, with Dahei squeezing in beside them as they walked towards Uncle Li’s house.
When they passed the large willow tree, Lu Lingxi pulled Yan Yue’s arm and stopped in his tracks.
There were many villagers around, and although it was dark and raining heavily, the willow tree in the middle of the crowd could still be seen clearly, illuminated by the flashlights. This was the first time Lu Lingxi had seen a tree that had been struck by lightning. The tree’s trunk, which was originally as thick as two people, was split from top to bottom, almost in half. The charred black core of the tree was exposed, and the willow’s branches that had been densely covered in leaves were scattered in all directions, covered with rain and mud.
With the mental scan, the white panel suggested that the willow had lost its life.
“The plant is dead, consume the power of nature to save it?”
Lu Lingxi didn’t hesitate and secretly chose yes. Although he was a bit reluctant to part with the power of nature because he was thinking of saving up to purify the plant nursery, this willow tree had been growing for almost a hundred years and it was such a pity for it to be split to death just like that. He also remembered that Uncle Li had said that this willow was the “ancestor” of many willows in the vicinity, so if he did nothing, he would feel uneasy.
After choosing yes, Lu Lingxi planned to leave. The power of nature could only bring the willow back to life, but whether it could survive depended on it itself. This was different from the last time when the little willow sapling died. He could still help watering it, but this old willow tree could only depend on itself.
Lu Lingxi chose to put away the white panel, but to his surprise the white panel didn’t disappear and still floated in front of him. He was taken aback slightly and saw a new prompt appear at the bottom of the panel.
“Found ancestral trees of a common origin, do you want to share vitality?”
As this prompt lit up, the willow tree in the centre of the panel disappeared and what followed was an image of a light brown soil. Above the image, there were six green dots of light flickering. Five of the dots were of similar brightness and size, clustered together. Not far from the five dots, there was another dot that was clearly larger, but it was dim, as if it might go out at any moment.
Lu Lingxi’s first thought was of the five small willow saplings planted inside the plant nursery; the last time they had shared their vitality was already a surprise for him, and he didn’t expect a similar prompt to appear today. Ancestral trees of a common origin? It seemed that what Uncle Li said was really no joke.
Lu Lingxi came back to his senses and quickly chose yes. He was staring at the white panel to see what other prompts would appear on it when Yan Yue reached out, swept him up in his arms and said, “Time to go, Uncle Li is still waiting for us to eat.”
Lu Lingxi was worried that he wouldn’t be able to see the changes in the willow tree once he was out of the range of the mental scan, so he pulled Yan Yue’s arm and whispered, “I’ll watch for a while longer.”
Yan Yue didn’t quite understand what was so beautiful about this dead willow tree, but when he met Lu Lingxi’s expectant eyes, he could only nod helplessly and wrap Lu Lingxi’s whole body in his arms. Lu Lingxi’s attention was on the white panel and he didn’t react at all to how intimate his and Yan Yue’s position was at the moment.
After a few minutes, the originally dim green spot of light gradually lit up, while the originally bright five spots of light gradually dimmed down. Lu Lingxi frowned a little uneasily. The vitality of the five small willow saplings was too little. In case… This thought just flashed in his mind when a green line extended from the spot of light representing the old willow tree and went around in a circle, stringing together the original five spots of light and then went back to the origin.
When the six dots of light were strung together to form a loop, Lu Lingxi felt a jolt in his mind as the soil within the green circle of light seemed to come alive and slowly began to change, turning from its original light brown colour to translucent white.
“Willow ecological colony formed, soil purification successful, reward +500 plant heart”
Lu Lingxi was stunned by this change. He looked up at Yan Yue with some confusion and whispered, “Big Brother Yan, pinch me to see if it’s true?”
Yan Yue raised his eyebrows, thinking that the young man’s remark was a bit odd, but he still reached out kindly and gave the young man’s smooth face a gentle squeeze. Lu Lingxi didn’t feel any pain at all, but felt his heart thumping with a very strange feeling. He felt that the change in the panel must have made him weird as well, so he smiled shyly and looked at the panel again.
After he waited for a few more minutes, the panel didn’t change anymore. Lu Lingxi let out a sigh of relief, put away the panel and pulled Yan Yue, “Big Brother Yan, let’s go eat.”
Yan Yue’s eyes darkened; just a moment ago, he smelled the fresh scent of grass and leaves from the young man’s body again.
Uncle Li had been waiting for them at home for a long time, and when he heard that Lu Lingxi had stopped to look at the willow tree, he smiled and lamented that the willow tree was a bit of a pity. Lu Lingxi held back from speaking, thinking of giving Uncle Li a surprise tomorrow. After the two of them finished their meal, Uncle Li said they might as well stay here. There was no electricity or water in the courtyard, and it would be troublesome for them to go back.
Lu Lingxi was a bit hesitant, and Yan Yue also felt that it was not too convenient. When they insisted on going back, Uncle Li filled a bucket of water and asked them to take it back with them. Otherwise the two of them would not even be able to wash up. All the way back to the small courtyard with an umbrella, half of Yan Yue’s body was wet. “I’ll go boil water, you sit still and don’t run around while the power is out.”
Lu Lingxi nodded obediently. This was the first time he had encountered a situation where there was no electricity, and he found it somewhat novel. Apart from the inconvenience of the water being cut off, he didn’t feel much of an impact. Yan Yue was outside boiling water, while Lu Lingxi sat bored on the edge of the bed, shaking his legs and teasing Dahei who was squatting on the floor.
“Dahei, you can’t sleep on the bed today, you can only sleep on the floor.”
Dahei gave a low whimper of resignation.
Lu Lingxi found it hard to bear, but Dahei was too dirty after running around in the rain. They had only brought back a bucket of water from Uncle Li’s house, which was definitely not enough to give Dahei a bath. “When we go back, you can eat two chicken legs to make up for it, okay?”
The temptation of chicken legs was still very strong, and Dahei’s ears twitched as he barked calmly three times.
Lu Lingxi: “…… You want to eat three?”
Dahei squinted his eyes and gave a low bark.
Lu Lingxi remembered Brother Dong’s evaluation of Dahei and was somewhat convinced that Dahei was really becoming a genius.
As one man and one dog were haggling over how many chicken legs to eat, Yan Yue had already boiled water and called for Lu Lingxi to wash his face. Lu Lingxi dutifully went and washed his face and feet, only to discover a big problem. The sneakers he was wearing today had long been soaked through, so how could he go back inside after washing his feet now? The only slippers in the courtyard were the ones he had brought over last time, and they were now on Big Brother Yan’s feet.
Lu Lingxi sat on a chair with his knees bent in embarrassment and seriously considered the problem. How about letting Big Brother Yan go to the bed first, and then calling for Dahei to bring the slippers over?
Yan Yue looked at Lu Lingxi’s tangled appearance with a faint smile at the corner of his mouth. He had to admit that he did it on purpose. Deliberately didn’t remind the young man, and deliberately left only one pair of slippers last time. He walked over slowly, pretending to be surprised, “What’s the matter?”
Lu Lingxi meekly said, “The shoes are dirty.”
Yan Yue suppressed the urge in his heart and said as if casually, “I’ll carry you back.”
Lu Lingxi was about to say that he wanted to let Dahei bring the slippers, but when he heard Yan Yue say that, he froze.
Yan Yue didn’t give Lu Lingxi a chance to refuse. Decisively, he leaned down and carefully picked up the young man in his arms. He found that this felt good, the young man’s body was soft and full of the faint fragrance of vegetation, and the moment Yan Yue held him in his arms almost made him feel like he was holding the whole world.
Yan Yue tightened his arms and whispered to Lu Lingxi’s ear, “Hold me tight.”
Lu Lingxi’s ears turned red.
There was no electricity in the house, only a candle lit inside, and the dim light couldn’t illuminate much. But even so, Yan Yue clearly saw Lu Lingxi’s white earlobes slowly tinge with red. His mind went blank for a moment, and before he could realise it, Yan Yue had already uncontrollably pressed the young man down and gently kissed his ear.