It was easy to think about a lot of things, but it was hard to say them. Because there always would be some expectations. Tang Yi’s knot with Lin Rui had a long history, so long that he almost had a physical aversion to the name and was irritable whenever Lin Rui was mentioned.
At first he feared that he was narrow-minded and chose to endure angrily. However, he wasn’t destined to be a person who could really endure, and the knot in his heart became tighter and tighter. He harboured all sorts of grudges and grievances until he could no longer bear them and finally exploded.
It was not that he hadn’t discussed this issue with Gu Yanting. The first time they fought was over Lin Rui, and before they broke up Tang Yi had repeatedly asked Gu Yanting about his attitude. The difference was that at that time he had decided in his heart that Gu Yanting was incorrigible, and the night Lin Rui returned and the night of the accident Gu Yanting’s performance didn’t give him a shred of hope.
Even though Gu Yanting said later that he treated Lin Rui as a friend, a classmate and a benefactor, and could even contact him less for the sake of Tang Yi, Tang Yi no longer believed it. He felt that it was just Gu Yanting’s plan to slow things down. If he could put Lin Rui on hold for him, why should the two of them go as far as breaking up?
But after the break-up, he couldn’t really let go. He and Gu Yanting were very young when they met, and the two of them spent the subsequent years together, renting a place to live, looking for work, going to restaurants, and then buying their house and paying off the mortgage, with a burden on their shoulders and ambitions and aspirations in their hearts. For the first time in Tang Yi’s life, he had someone with him for a long time. The two of them had the feeling of living together, and the place they lived in had finally become a home.
If he could, he wouldn’t want to say he hated it.
The waiter brought up the appetisers, and the exquisite foie gras and scallops were placed in the centre of the table. Tang Yi’s face gradually calmed down after he said this, but he couldn’t work up an appetite even looking at these expensive dishes, so he leaned back on the sofa and turned his head to avoid Gu Yanting’s eyes.
Gu Yanting was silent the whole time. He had been looking forward to this conversation for a long time. He knew there was a knot in Tang Yi’s heart, but he was never sure how big it was.
It took a while for him to speak. His face was flushed from the cold, but his tone was low and firm, “What kind of distance between me and Lin Rui is acceptable to you? Or to put it another way, what kind of attitude do you want me to have towards him? Or to go into even more detail, what can and cannot be done, what can and cannot be said, when we can and cannot meet… All these things can be set by you, and I’ll abide by them.”
He had initially underestimated how much Tang Yi minded these things, and now that he thought about it, whether he was sending Lin Rui home in front of Tang Yi or asking to let him borrow a room, he was undoubtedly deepening Tang Yi’s disappointment in him.
He paused for a moment and said: “He is indeed somewhat special to me. I was slightly autistic in high school and was pessimistic and misanthropic due to the rejection of my classmates. When I had a car accident, he saved me. At that time it was only one of the things. More importantly he unintentionally helped me open my heart… Before I met you, being nice to him had almost become my habit. I didn’t think about whether it was right or wrong, and later I didn’t think about whether it would hurt you. It was wrong of me.”
“But, Tang Yi, if you really can’t accept it, I can change all that. You can set how far I can go, and I will not cross the line. But… you can’t just push me away and not even give me a second chance to correct myself.”
Gu Yanting hadn’t said so many words for a long time, but this time he said it in one breath. His chest finally unblocked and he stared into Tang Yi’s eyes in hope.
Tang Yi looked at him for a while and then slowly turned his gaze away. He understood what Gu Yanting meant and it even sounded reasonable, but now his heart was very confused. It was an impulsive move to ask Gu Yanting out today. He was scalded by Shen Fan’s “unforgiving” evaluation. His chest was congested, and he was eager to get rid of all the people who had a relationship with Lin Rui. The first one to bear the brunt was Gu Yanting.
But he wasn’t prepared for such a conversation, so much so that he now began to regret it.
Tang Yi stirred the soup in front of him unconsciously. He didn’t know how to answer and shook his head half-heartedly, “It’s not necessary.”
Gu Yanting: “…why is it not necessary?”
“The days to come are long and no one can guarantee anything. Just because you don’t see him doesn’t mean you don’t want to see him. Now you’re bending over backwards for me, later on you might turn around and go to him again one day.”
“…but he and I have never had anything.” Gu Yanting took a deep breath and was somewhat speechless, “My mistake was not grasping the right scale, I was too good to him but it wasn’t a mistake of principle!”
At the end of the sentence his emotions were slightly agitated and his voice became two points louder.
There were other diners beside them who turned their heads slightly to look, and Tang Yi frowned and lowered his voice to remind him, “Keep your voice down.”
This was one of the most upscale western restaurants in T City, and Tang Yi vaguely regretted setting the meeting place here. After all, most of the people who came over to dine were talking in low voices and were very concerned about etiquette. With Gu Yanting’s voice rising just now, at least four or five tables were already looking over silently.
Gu Yanting glanced at him and suddenly sneered, “…no.”
Tang Yi: “……”
“If you want to talk about it today, we will talk about it clearly. If it is not convenient to talk here, we will change places. Two years ago, you patted your ass and left as soon as you notified me. After two years, you can’t let me suffocate like this. Tang Yi, death row prisoners still have the right to speak in their defence. You kicked me out with a fever today, you cannot be so ruthless as to let me suffocate here.”
Tang Yi couldn’t, if not for Gu Yanting’s sake, then for the sake of the obviously embarrassed and worried waiter not far away.
When Gu Yanting saw that his expression became less tense, he quickly beckoned the waiter to settle the bill. When he was signing the bill, he looked at Tang Yi who was obviously out of shape and rubbing his brow, and after a moment said, “There’s a square not far ahead of here, let’s go there.”
At the end of November T City already had the smell of ice in its breath. Tang Yi went straight from the office to the restaurant, wearing only a suit. When Gu Yanting went out, he pulled him a bit, took off his coat and draped it over him.
When Tang Yi reacted, Gu Yanting was already striding ahead, his shadow stretched in the light of the streetlamp. Tang Yi rubbed his face in annoyance and simply stepped on the long, thin head that stretched in front of him. Then he picked up the pace and followed.
The small square was not far from here. The said square was actually a small open park, with a clearing in front and a small hill behind it. When the weather was warm, the people of the neighbourhood would dance here. The best thing to see was the male teacher teaching the tango. But this time it was so cold that there was no one left in the square. Gu Yanting kept walking when he arrived at the place, and walked to the top of the hill before he stopped and turned to look at Tang Yi.
Tang Yi hesitated for a moment and followed him.
The hill was not high and there was not much to see down there, only a few trees bristling in the wind. Tang Yi was about to take off the coat he was wearing but as soon as he raised his hand he was grabbed by Gu Yanting.
Gu Yanting’s eyes were surprisingly bright, and when Tang Yi looked up at him, he chuckled unexpectedly, “Tang Yi, I didn’t finish what I said in the restaurant just now. In fact, if we’re talking about getting back together, I should be the one with the knot in my heart.”
Tang Yi’s movements paused for a moment and he glared at Gu Yanting fiercely, “What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? Don’t you know?”
Gu Yanting let go of his hand; his attitude was very different from his gentle appearance at the restaurant. He lowered his head and stared into Tang Yi’s eyes; after a while his gaze dropped down and landed on the latter’s lips. At the same time he raised his hand and gently touched Tang Yi’s mouth with his thumb, rubbing it for a moment, asking with a sneer, “Has he… touched it?”
Tang Yi froze for a moment and then reacted violently. Annoyance and anger made his face hot. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t expect Gu Yanting to call him out from the restaurant on purpose, in order to say this. He violently threw off the coat and pushed Gu Yanting away. The coat also fell to the ground.
Gu Yanting coughed twice in a low voice when his hand was thrown away. He didn’t bend down to pick up the coat, but gave a chuckle as he looked at Tang Yi’s hand that was clenched into a fist and trembling slightly.
“You say you mind Lin Rui, but have you ever wondered if I’ve minded you kissing and cuddling with other people these past two years?!” Gu Yanting gritted his teeth, his eyes fixed on Tang Yi’s from start to finish, “Do you know that I almost crashed to death while you had the happy night with another man! Christmas Eve was very lively, wasn’t it? Did you have a good time? Did the new underwear fit? Silent night, holy night is not for you, huh?”
The evil fire in Tang Yi’s heart slowly turned to doubt when he heard these words, and it was only when Gu Yanting said “underwear” that he came to his senses.
In the darkness, only the weak light from the small square reached them, faintly outlining Gu Yanting’s tight jaw. His eyebrows and eyes were full of anger while he was looking at Tang Yi as if he was trying to suppress something.
Tang Yi was silent for a moment before suddenly asking, “Did you make that call?”
Gu Yanting’s gaze flickered for a moment, and in fact, there was no need to say anything; the two of them already knew the answer. Tang Yi didn’t understand what Gu Yanting meant by “almost crashed to death”. He wanted to ask but then thought it would be nosy – it was obvious that the two had broken up and wanted to get as far away from each other as possible, so what was the point of unearthing those things.
He sighed and finally nodded slowly, “In that case, wouldn’t it be better to stay away? You see, I’m unhappy with your past and you’re unhappy with my past. There’s no need to even talk about it.”
Gu Yanting snorted heavily, “You don’t have to worry about clearing up the relationship, Tang Yi, I mind the past but I can bear it, because I can’t let you go. My feelings for you are much weightier than these junk things! I fucking want to talk to you, so all this can be solved!”
“You say you’re afraid of my old feelings, but am I not? I was just cheap towards Lin Rui at best for a few years but you went from spirit to flesh!”
Tang Yi’s mind exploded; he glared fiercely at Gu Yanting and opened his mouth to say something but Gu Yanting was faster.
Gu Yanting’s chest was heaving and his voice was hoarse, “If you like someone else, just say so, don’t play around like that, the double standard is too much, right? Why should I have to accept the ‘bad guy’ label as soon as it is thrown on me? It’s been two years since that shit went down, can’t you just admit it? If you don’t have any feelings for me, just say so, don’t use Lin Rui as an excuse! Unless you’re in love with someone else, why are you kicking me out in such a hurry?”
“You!!!” Tang Yi’s face turned white and he was so angry that he didn’t know what to say for a long time. He couldn’t help but try to punch him, but Gu Yanting grabbed his wrist.
When he and Gu Yanting got along, Tang Yi was always the dominant one, and Gu Yanting was never able to defeat him with his stupid mouth. Tang Yi was so angry; today, he was stimulated by Shen Fan’s “unforgiving” and decided to “talk” to Gu Yanting, but he didn’t expect the latter would be so unreasonable that would anger him to death.
Tang Yi’s Adam’s apple rolled up and down several times. He knew what was wrong, but he couldn’t find the words to refute it.
“I want to shut up, but I have to let you know that you have had a boyfriend for the past two years and I’ve been more lonely than a monk. I think about you every day and night, the thought that you might be touched by another man almost drives me crazy, I sleep and dream about you at night, I have to hold your shirt to jerk off or I can’t get hard…”
Gu Yanting looked at Tang Yi’s body shaking in anger; his lips moved letting out his breath and he calmed down.
He let go of his hand after a while but still held on to Tang Yi’s arm, gently reaching to stroke Tang Yi’s back up and down. He lowered his voice, and his tone wasn’t as impulsive as before, but with a bit of coaxing, “I know you are angry with me. It was all my fault before, and you have punished me. But we have a long life ahead of us, let bygones be bygones, let’s start again, shall we?”
When he reached the last sentence, he slightly bent over and softly muttered it against Tang Yi’s ear, his nasal voice and his tickling breath carrying a faint hint of seduction. Tang Yi finally slowly exhaled, held in Gu Yanting’s arms, closing his eyes in silence until his breath calmed down.
Gu Yanting didn’t dare to get too close. He stroked Tang Yi’s back rhythmically with his palm. When Tang Yi slowly opened his beautiful eyes and met his gaze, Gu Yanting felt a little thrill of anticipation.
Tang Yi looked at him for a long time, and finally said unhurriedly, “What an exciting method, congratulations to Mr. Gu. In the future, if you can’t make it in Huayuan, with this body, you can find a golden master or a golden mistress to advance in the entertainment industry. You definitely won’t starve to death.”
His voice was very soft after his emotions had calmed down, and his eyes were bright and shining, dazzling like clusters of leaping fire.
If he was in a normal state, Tang Yi would have been too stubborn to listen to anything anyone said. But he was already in a daze today, and Gu Yanting somehow had noticed the signs in the restaurant and simply fought back with anger and resentment. First, he mentioned the Christmas incident to make Tang Yi feel guilty, and then he used Zhou Hao to explain his own grievances and sadness. He used all the right times, the right places and the right people to provoke Tang Yi to admit that he still had feelings for him.
Gu Yanting’s body stiffened for a moment, but he maintained his hugging position without moving. The two of them stared at each other, neither of them willing to speak first. After a long time, Gu Yanting sighed, slowly lowered his head and buried his face in the nook of Tang Yi’s neck.
He whispered, “Tang Yi, how do you know that I’m not sad, not upset…”
These words were much lighter than the long speech that preceded them, more like a helpless sigh, yet the sadness in them was heavy. Tang Yi hesitated for a moment and didn’t move.
Gu Yanting slowly tightened his arms and exhaled gently, “When we were together, I said ‘let’s break up’ at every turn, actually because I knew that you wouldn’t agree. Every time you refused, I was very happy in my heart. Imagine there is something that you’re afraid of losing. You always fear that it is not glued firmly enough, the bolt is not tight enough, so you can’t help but yank and push. I felt at ease when I couldn’t push you away. ”
“But actually, I kept being afraid, afraid of what if you agreed to my words… until later you mentioned it first.”
It had been four or five years since those trivial things. When they argued, Gu Yanting often said “let’s break up” and Tang Yi thought that Gu Yanting was not invested in this relationship, that he blamed Tang Yi for the loss of his first love. Every time when Tang Yi coldly refused, in fact, in addition to stubbornness, his heart was full of disappointment.
Gu Yanting gave a bitter laugh, slowly raised his head and said softly, “You had the courage to break up regardless of your feelings. I understood it too late, so I could only put my heart on hold. You can call me a hooligan or a rascal but I haven’t said half a word to agree since you first mentioned the break-up. You can try to break up but I didn’t agree before, I don’t agree now and I won’t agree for my whole life!”
Tang Yi’s gaze was slightly downcast, his long, dense eyelashes trembling gently. He hadn’t thought that one day the positions of him and Gu Yanting would be switched. Gu Yanting’s confession was something he longed for once, when he firmly believed that Gu Yanting preferred Lin Rui and their relationship was nothing more than retreat and passive acceptance.
The night breeze swirled the fallen leaves as Gu Yanting slowly moved closer, finally kissing him gently on the corner of his mouth, then backing away somewhat before warm, soft, light kisses fell delicately on Tang Yi’s chin, lips, face and the tip of his nose.
Finally, when Tang Yi trembled and closed his eyes, Gu Yanting cautiously kissed his eyes, the last kiss landing on his brow as he whispered, “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault.”
When Tang Yi first started working in business, he had read a lot of psychological theories in order to quickly master the negotiation skills. Although most of them were forgotten and not very useful, there was a “Festinger’s Law” that impressed him a lot – 10% of life is made up of what happened to you, and the other 90% is determined by your reaction to what happened.
For example, had Tang Yi handled Gu Yanting’s relationship with Lin Rui in a different way, he would have had a better outcome. Even if he had exploded in anger the first time, it would have been either Gu Yanting realising his problem earlier, or the two of them breaking up earlier.
Either of these two results was much better than the situation three years later. At least had they broken up when they just got together, there would be at most some regret and resentment, but it would still be better than the later break-up when they were too deeply intertwined with each other, almost as if related by blood.
The incident with Lin Rui was a trigger, but the root of the problem lay in their mutual trust and communication.
Tang Yi had never thought about how he would be able to untie the knot in his heart and accept Gu Yanting in the future. But he had to admit that everything Gu Yanting had said tonight, word for word, was falling right into his heart. He had once longed for this scene, but his inner weakness made him self-defeating, not allowing him to have any expectations for the future.
Gu Yanting kissed him gently again and again, saying “I’m sorry” in a low and slow voice, and when Tang Yi settled down and reached out to block his face, Gu Yanting’s gaze darkened, his mouth gently kissing Tang Yi’s palm. He said, “Now it’s my turn to chase you. You don’t need to hurry to say ‘yes’, you don’t have to care about anything else, let’s take our time, okay?”
Although he was asking if it was okay, his tone was very certain.
Tang Yi was silent for a while and asked after a long time, “Is your current job good?”
Gu Yanting was a bit startled with this sudden question and nodded, “Very good.”
“Do you like it? Is there a future?”
“I like it a lot, the future… is good too.”
Tang Yi hummed and finally asked, “Imagine if I don’t want you to do it anymore, what will you do?” He began to regret asking this at once. Such a childish gambling tone really shouldn’t have come from him, and getting an answer at this point might not make sense.
Gu Yanting laughed a little, but answered quickly, “Between you and work, I’ll choose you.”
Tang Yi was slightly taken aback when he saw Gu Yanting looking at him seriously and heard him saying, “Don’t underestimate your position in my heart. I know it’s futile to say this now, but I still want you to know. If you don’t believe me, you can wait until I take my time to show you.”
On the way back the coat was still draped over Tang Yi’s shoulders, and while Gu Yanting’s face was unnaturally red, the corners of his mouth were grinning almost to the roots of his ears.
Tang Yi didn’t promise him anything, but being able to acquiesce to his presence was already another form of concession. The two of them sat in the taxi without speaking the whole way, and soon after Gu Yanting sat down, he reached out to hold Tang Yi’s hand. Tang Yi dodged but was grabbed by him again soon after, and finally helplessly interlocked fingers with him for the rest of the way.
After returning home, Gu Yanting automatically became a dog sitter. Tang Yi had always felt that the dog given to him by Shen Fan was more of a nuisance than a comfort to him. Moreover, shortly after he received the little one, the disaster struck at his company, and it had not yet been resolved. The dog was probably not spared from separation anxiety disorder. What happened tonight was completely beyond Tang Yi’s expectation, and he was faintly embarrassed when he arrived at home. Therefore, he didn’t realise what was wrong when he watched the sick guy work.
He wasn’t ready to start again, and it was clear that Gu Yanting couldn’t wait. The latter’s offensive was so fierce that it caught Tang Yi off guard with a destructive force. Tang Yi faintly felt that he hadn’t even fully reacted until now. He was a little dazed when Gu Yanting familiarly brought Fanfan’s snacks and toys, and hummed a song while cleaning up the dog’s shit in the toilet. In the end, he could only silently rummage for the fever-reducing medicine and put it on the coffee table.
When Gu Yanting took the medicine, he took the initiative to come over. Tang Yi was reading a book on the sofa, the page staying for a long time without turning. Gu Yanting drank the granules and leaned towards him. Suddenly, he asked, “Were you unhappy today?”
“I mean before you asked me out,” Gu Yanting bowed his head slightly and moved closer again, his voice still a little hoarse, “Did something happen? Or did someone say something to you?”
He watched Tang Yi turn away and said soothingly, “There’s no Mountain of Flames (insurmountable obstacle) you can’t cross. Just look for solutions when you encounter problems. If you really don’t have any, just let nature take its course.”
This sentence has been said to Tang Yi by others before, but this kind of comfort had no real meaning. Others don’t have to take responsibility for saying a pretty thing. In the future, the only one who can’t cross the Mountain of Flames and is burned to death is you. Tang Yi used to be helpless when he heard such things, but today he inexplicably felt that there seemed to be a little truth there.
He was silent for a while, put the book in his hand down, leaned against the sofa and asked Gu Yanting, “What if it doesn’t work?”
“Is something wrong? At work?”
“…yes,” Tang Yi paused, “there’s a problem with the contract your Huayuan signed with our company.”