Tang Yi still bought a small blue school bag with Mickey Mouse painted on it before Weiwei arrived on Saturday. He wanted to buy a more powerful and domineering one, but the shop assistant said that this one was selling best now.
Tang Yi had seen such a school bag when he was a child. At that time, there were very few people carrying backpacks. The only person carrying such a bag was also the son of Liu Bao, the village’s millionaire. Who could’ve imagined that twenty years later this mouse would still be in great demand.
He took the bank card and the small school bag handed over by the shop assistant and carried it for a while. He couldn’t help but feel a little funny. Shen Fan once talked to him at length, believing that Tang Yi’s kindness to Zhou Weiwei was largely to make up for the shortcomings of his own childhood. The first few times Tang Yi met Zhou Weiwei, Weiwei was in a situation of isolation and hopelessness, and after that Weiwei had no one to keep him company for a long time. His well-behaved intelligence was also on par with Tang Yi’s when he was young, so it was only natural that the big one and the little one would rely on each other so much.
When Shen Fan said this, Tang Yi didn’t refute it. Although Shen Fan’s intention was to make Tang Yi recognise his heart so as to maintain an appropriate distance from the child of the Zhou family and Tang Yi listened to him all afternoon, listened very seriously, when he put down the phone, he found himself completely unable to do so.
Many times Zhou Weiwei relied on Tang Yi far more than on Zhou Hao. The first time Weiwei went to C City, he was so uncomfortable that he would call Tang Yi almost every other day, and every time he would say this and that for at least half an hour. Then Tang Yi told him that children should not talk on the phone for a long time as it was not good for their ears. Zhou Weiwei just let out an “oh” and said, “Uncle Tang, but what can I do if I miss you?” This sentence at once made Tang Yi’s nose sour, and since then he had given Zhou Weiwei the privilege of calling him at any time.
Tang Yi said to Shen Fan that day: this child, after all, is someone else’s child. Every day that passes I can love him for one day less.
It was ten o’clock in the morning when Zhou Hao drove to the appointed place. Weiwei was excited from the moment Tang Yi appeared, shouting “Uncle, Uncle!” Tang Yi smiled and walked over to him, handing him the blue bag as he got in the car.
Zhou Hao’s face was a little pale; he obviously didn’t have a good rest. After Tang Yi and Zhou Weiwei finished talking, he turned his head and glanced at Tang Yi, “Where’s your car?”
“Yesterday I asked Lao Ning to send it to someone.” Tang Yi smiled and rubbed Weiwei’s head.
“Don’t lend the car casually, it’s dangerous.” Zhou Hao reminded him, frowning.
“I won’t in the future.” Still smiling, Tang Yi pushed up the frame of his glasses, “Are we going there right now?”
“En, right now.”
The reason why Zhou Hao didn’t have a good rest was neatly revealed by Zhou Weiwei soon. There were not many projects he could play in the amusement park. Most of them were about little bees and big cups. Zhou Hao didn’t plan to accompany him there, so Zhou Weiwei hooked Tang Yi’s arm and queued up with the crowd while looking back at Zhou Hao who was waiting outside, saying, “Uncle Tang, when I’m in the first grade, can I come to school here?”
Tang Yi didn’t know what to think, but looking at Zhou Weiwei’s serious face, he smiled and asked, “Here is where?”
“T City.” Zhou Weiwei whispered, “I don’t want to live in C City anymore… I’m scared when I sleep at night.”
Tang Yi thought of the night he spent at Zhou’s house. At that time, Zhou Hao’s parents took Zhou Weiwei out, and the housekeeper lived in the servant’s room. The huge house was indeed quite deserted at the time.
“What about your grandparents?” Tang Yi asked in surprise.
“They…” Zhou Weiwei paused for a while, then bit his lip for a long time and said, “They don’t like me… just Dad likes me, but Dad hasn’t been home recently.”
For the first time, he talked about the Zhou family in front of Tang Yi, and after a few words, he closed his mouth and stopped talking. Tang Yi was taken aback for a while and didn’t know how to comfort him when he saw Zhou Weiwei look up at him hopefully, “But yesterday when Dad was on the phone, I heard him say that he will live in T City in the future and there are very important things going on here. Uncle Tang, can you talk to Dad and let me come too, okay?”
Tang Yi opened his mouth and waited until he and Zhou Weiwei had finished a round but didn’t say yes or no.
When the two of them walked out, Zhou Hao was already waiting at the exit.
When he saw Tang Yi come out, the corners of his mouth curved up. He stretched out his hand and handed a bottle of water. After Tang Yi took two sips, Zhou Hao peeled off a piece of chocolate and delivered it to his mouth.
Zhou Weiwei blinked and watched, obediently not making a sound. Tang Yi’s face felt hot. He hurriedly took the chocolate and broke off half of it for Zhou Weiwei to eat. The next few projects Zhou Hao accompanied them. After being infected by the giggling of the children around, his face eased a lot.
It was a rare occasion for Zhou Weiwei to go out to play, and he played with more than enough enthusiasm until the evening before following the adults out. On the way back, Tang Yi drove, and Zhou Weiwei fell asleep without saying a few words after getting in the car. The car was surprisingly quiet. After Tang Yi was silent for a while, he suddenly said “Thank you”.
Zhou Hao was startled for a moment and raised his eyes to look at him.
“Thank you for giving me a ride when we first met.” Tang Yi smiled. It was when he was attending a meeting in Haikou. He was going to Sanya next. Lin Rui came over to mock him. As a result, Zhou Hao relieved the pressure and gave him a ride.
He felt in a bit of a daze, thinking about it. These things really seemed to have happened yesterday, but counting carefully, two years had passed.
Zhou Hao froze for a moment, smiled and shook his head.
Tang Yi paused and continued, “Thank you for waiting for me until midnight that day and delaying the plane that night. Thank you also for taking a lot of care of me in the past two years; much of it I will never be able to repay.”
“I’m a person with a lot of good points and a lot of bad points. I actually know all the good things you’ve done for me and I remember them all. It’s just that I haven’t been able to let go of my last relationship before, so I haven’t been able to give you a clear answer.”
In the dim light, both of their expressions looked very soft. Zhou Hao’s original movement of pinching the centre of his brows stopped, and he looked over in surprise.
Tang Yi’s words were very slow and difficult, but they sounded very organised, like a conclusion drawn after deep thought.
Tang Yi had rejected him countless times before, and the way he had pulled back after the last kiss made Zhou Hao think that the relationship between the two of them was going to stop there. But who knew that tonight Tang Yi would loosen up and look as if he was touched.
Zhou Hao was silent for a while and finally asked him, “So, are you… okay with talking about your past?”
Neither of them spoke anymore. Tang Yi’s expression was somewhat sad. After a long time, he nodded slowly, “We can talk, and feel free to ask whatever you want to know.”
“Then,” Zhou Hao smiled, “do we still need to give each other more space?”
The car slowly drove to the door of the hotel. Tang Yi pondered for a while and said, “I will have my birthday next week. If you want, I can invite you to spend it with me and I will answer your questions in the meantime.”
It was late when Tang Yi returned to his apartment. He had put Fanfan in his new cage on his way out and when he returned the dog was sleeping on his back.
Tang Yi took out the bedding underneath and rinsed it, put some dog food and water in for him, and by the time he went to take a shower himself he was almost too tired to move.
It was rare for him to be this tired, and it was his brain that was more tired than his body. At this moment he wanted to relax and not to think about anything.
Zhou Hao had done a lot of romantic things in the past two years, and among them were many that singularly were enough to make a simple-minded boy or girl be willing to throw their hearts to his feet. But Tang Yi’s mind was complicated, and a little analysis let him realise that Zhou Hao had never actually done anything that was detrimental to his own interests.
Therefore, Tang Yi was taken aback by his intention to come to T City. Zhou Hao’s business was in C City. Moving to T City was bound to be opposed by all parties. Even if Zhou Hao could move smoothly, it was impossible to say that this move would not affect his business.
It was difficult for Tang Yi to ignore this. He felt tired, and he felt that maybe it was right to move on.
This kind of chaotic thoughts haunted Tang Yi all night, and he developed a fever in the middle of the night, and then was feverish intermittently for a whole day, until Monday morning when he didn’t get better.
When the Huayuan project was won, ER’s task for this year was completed ahead of schedule. Tang Yi felt lazy and wrapped himself in a blanket and decided to rest at home for a day.
It was just after nine o’clock when his mobile phone rang, unwelcome.
The caller was Ning Zeyu. As soon as Tang Yi picked up the phone, he heard Ning Zeyu shouting in a voice full of urgency, “Lao Tang, something’s happened!”
Ning Zeyu was a very stable person, and oftentimes he could hold his ground even better than Tang Yi. Tang Yi’s heart jolted and a chill of premonition ran up his spine to the top of his head.
He tried his best to calm down and asked, “What’s the matter? Lao Ning, speak slowly.”
“Ma Sinian and Wang Xiangming are both gone! I can’t get through on the phone, and there’s no one in the dormitory, so I’ve asked someone to go to their homes to check.” Ning Zeyu took a deep breath and said slowly, “Lao Tang, we have to prepare for the worst.”
Both Ma Sinian and Wang Xiangming were the company’s core technical staff, as well as the designated implementation director and project manager of the Huayuan Group’s project. When ER was being restructured, a lot of people had left. The two of them were competent and calm and slowly became the backbone of the company. Today, at least one-third of the projects being implemented by the company were in their hands.
Tang Yi’s brow twitched fiercely. He wanted to say that it was impossible. The company treated these two people very well. At this time, it was of no benefit for them to quit and they wouldn’t get any bonuses and commissions. But in the end, reason prevailed.
He calmed down after a while, and then said very quietly, “Ten minutes, meet in my office.”
Ten minutes later, Tang Yi walked into the company office neatly dressed and calm. At the same time, he got the exact news — the two of them were really gone. Their families were not local. The company rented a house for their family members, and the two of them were both allocated separate company dormitories. When Ning Zeyu sent someone to look for them this morning, he found that these two places had already been emptied and no trace of them left at all.
Moreover, after this news, they suddenly received claims from three different companies that the progress of ER’s work on the projects was much slower than stipulated in the contract and they questioned ER’s ability to deliver the projects on schedule.
“Bastards!“ Ning Zeyu walked back and forth in Tang Yi’s office like a trapped beast, gritting his teeth and saying, “This time, someone must be sabotaging the projects! Must be a competitor!”
“Can we deliver?” Tang Yi asked after being silent for a while, “You tell the truth.”
Ning Zeyu’s lips moved; he stood for a long time in a daze, and then shook his head: “No. And, there are more than these three.”