When Xiao Feng arrived at the restaurant with Tiger and the others, it was still early, so when he saw Wang Shuxiu and Yi Hang busy in the kitchen, he washed his hands and went to help. He was so natural that Wang Shuxiu couldn’t say anything; she could just give in a little and get used to it.
When he saw Xiao Feng picking vegetables, Erfei rolled up his sleeves and wanted to help, but was pulled back by Tiger, who scolded Erfei for being a dummy. With a twinkle in his eye, Tiger found an excuse to drag Yi Hang out as well. The group sat on the steps at the entrance of the restaurant, just as they did last time.
Xiao Feng looked at the empty small restaurant with his usual expressionlessness, but a smile flashed in his eyes very quickly. Ding Er always praised Tiger in front of him, saying that Tiger knew how to behave, and he didn’t praise him in vain. With non-stop movements of his hands, Xiao Feng put the washed rice aside, saying as if inadvertently: “The chess and card parlour has been closed. I plan to take Tiger and the others to do something else.”
Wang Shuxiu’s hands paused; she said nothing. The closure of Brother Feng’s card and chess parlour was not a small matter, and basically everyone in the neighbourhood knew about it. Apart from those who gambled indiscriminately, many of the customers of the card and chess parlour were sensible and went there occasionally just for fun. During this time, there was a lot of talk around, with people wondering what had happened to make Brother Feng close the card and chess parlour. Wang Shuxiu was too old to think that Brother Feng had closed it because of those few words she had said last time, but when she heard the news, she couldn’t help but feel a little complicated.
Now that Xiao Feng said this personally, as if he was reporting it to her specifically, Wang Shuxiu couldn’t tell what was going on in her heart. She didn’t say anything, and Xiao Feng didn’t say anything else either, so the kitchen was quiet for a while. Both of them worked with their heads down, but instead of looking awkward, there was a sense of tranquillity that grew, creating a feeling around them that was just like thousands of ordinary families.
Tiger and the others sat outside for a while and counted when it was time for those inside to finish talking. It would be too deliberate for them to stay outside, so they walked in pretending that nothing had happened. Wang Shuxiu was stir-frying, and Xiao Feng was standing by to help pass the spices or something. Tiger couldn’t tell much from Brother Feng’s face, but looking at the way Brother Feng and Xiaohua’s lady boss were working together, Brother Feng must have been in a good mood. The boss and the sister-in-law were working, so Tiger and the others couldn’t stay idle. They started to move tables, set up dishes and so on.
What Lu Lingxi saw when he arrived was this lively scene in the small restaurant. Today was a day to thank Brother Feng for taking care of him in the past few days, so naturally Lu Lingxi couldn’t miss it. He had thought of closing the shop earlier to come over, but it so happened that two familiar customers had come to Tiny Garden and he had been delayed until now.
“Xiao Xi is here?” Wang Shuxiu asked as she was cooking.
Lu Lingxi nodded and washed his hands to help, but found that Xiao Feng had done all the work he could, and he couldn’t intervene at all. Stunned, he had to go to Yi Hang and accompany him to sit in the corner peeling garlic.
“Why is Brother Feng helping in the kitchen?” Lu Lingxi asked in a whisper.
Yi Hang smiled narrowly and said in the same low voice: “Wants to be your dad.”
Lu Lingxi: “……”
He had some mixed feelings at this point. He hadn’t heard much about the last showdown between Wang Shuxiu and Brother Feng, but he understood the general meaning. Wang Shuxiu couldn’t accept Brother Feng’s business and sort of shot down Brother Feng’s intentions. Lu Lingxi just didn’t expect Brother Feng to close the card and chess parlour, and at first he didn’t react to it. It was only after a few days that Lu Lingxi had the hindsight to connect it to that conversation between Wang Shuxiu and Brother Feng. Lu Lingxi was a bit uneasy, but felt that Brother Feng’s behaviour was sincere. To him anyway, as long as Wang Shuxiu was happy, it didn’t matter who was his dad.
While doing some heavyweight psychological build-up that Xiao Feng might become his stepfather, Lu Lingxi peeled the garlic in earnest. However, before he had peeled two cloves, the mobile phone on the table rang. The distinctive ringing tone made his eyes light up. “Big Brother Yan?” It had been a little over half a month since Yan Yue had last come to see him.
The young man’s voice sounded with a hint of eagerness, and Yan Yue couldn’t help but feel his expression soften. “I’m back.” He said softly into the phone, “Where are you, Xiao Xi? I want to see you.”
“I’m at the restaurant.” Lu Lingxi looked very happy, “But…” he said with some hesitation, “Today Mom invited Brother Feng for dinner, do you want to come over, Big Brother Yan?”
Yan Yue came back this time with the intention of meeting Xiao Feng, but today’s occasion was not really appropriate. Suppressing the thought in his mind of wanting to see Lu Lingxi immediately, Yan Yue changed his plans, “Then Big Brother Yan will go to the hotel first and will come to see you in the evening.”
“En.” Lu Lingxi agreed, not daring to say anything in front of Yi Hang, and quickly hung up the phone.
“Brother Yan is back?” Yi Hang asked as he listened.
Lu Lingxi nodded; thinking about how Yan Yue said he wouldn’t leave when he came back this time, he couldn’t suppress the smile on his face.
“Are you that happy?” Yi Hang looked at him with a puzzled expression.
Lu Lingxi didn’t say anything; he tried hard to control his emotions, but the corners of his mouth couldn’t be pulled down no matter what. The smile on Lu Lingxi’s face didn’t change until everyone was eating. Wang Shuxiu was inexplicably relieved as she watched him.
After the meal was over, Tiger shouted to go singing. Wang Shuxiu had a rare day off from work and agreed with Lin Mei to go out for a stroll. Lu Lingxi was thinking about what Yan Yue said about finding him, so he declined the offer to sing and went home alone.
Yan Yue hadn’t come yet, and Lu Lingxi didn’t rush him either. The house next door was almost cleaned up and the fence between the backyards had been removed by workers, so that the two backyards were completely connected. At first, Wang Shuxiu had some concerns, thinking that even if Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue knew each other well, they were still two families, so it was not a good idea to link the yards together. Later, when she heard that it was Yan Yue’s idea, she thought that if Yan Yue didn’t care about it and there was nothing Yan Yue could want from their family, there was no reason for her to say anything. During this time when Yan Yue was away, Lu Lingxi went next door to clean up in the evenings when he had free time. He evolved six or seven pots of chlorophytum and hung them all over the house to ensure that the formaldehyde inside was absorbed cleanly.
After the backyards were connected, Dahei was the happiest. In the past, Dahei’s range of activity was only in their backyard, but now that the backyard had doubled in size, Dahei was obviously very excited and often ran around the backyard by himself.
“Dahei, come here.” After Lu Lingxi finished watering the tomatoes, he purposely washed a tomato and called Dahei.
Dahei immediately ran back head over heels, squatting on the ground and wagging his tail at Lu Lingxi slightly.
Lu Lingxi smiled and handed the tomato to Dahei, who was about to eat it when a white kitten jumped up on the fence and “meowed” in Dahei’s direction. Lu Lingxi smiled; he knew this cat. It was the kitten born to Grandma Yang’s cat upstairs some time ago. It was only two months old, but despite its small size, it was quite bold and often jumped to the first floor to provoke Dahei.
When Dahei heard the cat’s meow, he turned his head to look at it and turned back. The little kitten meowed softly again. Seeing that Dahei didn’t respond this time, the little kitten jumped into the backyard and took a few tentative steps in Lu Lingxi’s direction. Its sapphire blue eyes were moist, looking at Lu Lingxi with an innocent expression while it meowed softly.
Lu Lingxi was very fond of small animals, and it seemed that small animals liked him too. Whenever he encountered puppies and kittens on the way, they were willing to bark and meow around him. He stroked Dahei’s head soothingly and beckoned the little kitten. The little kitten seemed to understand his gesture, and with a light leap, it used its little paws to step on Dahei’s head, using Dahei as a springboard to burrow into Lu Lingxi’s arms.
Lu Lingxi held back a smile and stretched out one finger to scratch the kitten’s chin. The kitten let out a comfortable meow and looked at Dahei from above, waving its paw provocatively.
Lu Lingxi: “……”
Dahei always turned a blind eye to the kitten’s provocations, calmly squatting on the ground and continuing to eat his tomato. The little kitten yelped in displeasure, jumped out of Lu Lingxi’s embrace, swatted away the tomato with one paw, jumped on the fence before Dahei could react and turned around to run.
Lu Lingxi was about to laugh to death. He didn’t know what was wrong with this little kitten that it liked to tease Dahei every now and then. But when he thought about it, Lu Lingxi’s smile disappeared and he frowned slightly. This little kitten seemed a bit too smart and a bit too healthy. Only two months old and already able to jump up and down so vigorously and with a great deal of resourcefulness.
He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t hear the sound of the door closing inside the house. Not long after, Yan Yue’s figure appeared on the balcony. Yan Yue looked at Lu Lingxi’s back greedily, the longing in his eyes nearly palpable. Having not seen the young man for half a month, Yan Yue felt that Lu Lingxi seemed to have lost some weight again. He didn’t know what the young man was thinking that he didn’t even notice his appearance.
“Xiao Xi.” Yan Yue suppressed his emotions and said as calmly as he could.
The familiar voice made Lu Lingxi jerk back to his senses. He turned his head to look at Yan Yue with bright eyes, “Big Brother Yan, you’re back?”
The corners of Yan Yue’s mouth curled up and he resisted the urge to walk over to Lu Lingxi’s side. He beckoned the young man and led him into the house. Lu Lingxi didn’t mind and followed behind Yan Yue. As soon as he entered the house, he was hugged hard by Yan Yue and kissed eagerly on the lips. The long thoughts were condensed into a single kiss, and Yan Yue couldn’t let go of Lu Lingxi. Burning desire rose in his body. Yan Yue endured it and held the young men in his arms, kissing him, unable to slow down for a long time, until Lu Lingxi was dizzy.
After the lingering kiss, Yan Yue sat on the sofa still hugging Lu Lingxi. Lu Lingxi changed his position a little uncomfortably and leaned against Yan Yue to calm his breathing. Yan Yue hugged him contentedly, one hand gently touching Lu Lingxi’s face, and asked in a low voice, “What were you thinking about in the yard just now?”
Lu Lingxi’s brain was still a little short of oxygen at the moment, and it took him a few seconds to realise what Yan Yue was asking. He tilted his head somewhat hesitantly to look at Yan Yue, “Big Brother Yan, what do you think, if plants can evolve, will animals also evolve?”
Yan Yue was stunned, “Why did you think of this?”
Lu Lingxi told the story of the little kitten provoking Dahei, somewhat worried that the little kitten was too smart. Of course the smartest one was still Dahei, and Lu Lingxi sometimes felt that Dahei was exactly like a human except that he couldn’t speak.
Yan Yue had never had a pet, but he was so used to Dahei’s intelligence that he didn’t think anything of the little kitten’s reaction. He looked down and kissed Lu Lingxi soothingly on the forehead, knowing that Lu Lingxi was worried about these changes caused by the panel. “Xiao Xi is thinking too much.” Yan Yue said patiently, “You also said the kitten was born after the soil was purified. The environment is good, the air is good, the kitten’s range of activity is around the community, it is normal for it to be healthier than other kittens. As for being smart, a cat’s IQ is already high, so it shouldn’t be an abnormality.”
Lu Lingxi thought about it and also decided that he might be thinking too much.