Sitting in the bakery, Mrs. Qin looked out the window. The sun was bright and dazzling outside, and the roadside was full of crepe-myrtle in bloom. The air-conditioning in the bakery was very good and she even felt a little chilly. Thinking of the man she was about to meet and what she had to say, Mrs. Qin didn’t have any mood to look at the scenery anymore. She lowered her head and took a sip of a hot drink that had a somewhat soothing effect on her. She took a bite of a small cake and the taste was unexpectedly delicious, so she took two more bites.
When Lu Ying came out, the small cupcake in front of Mrs. Qin had already been eaten.
“Mrs. Qin.” Lu Ying sat down in the empty seat opposite her, greeted her and said nothing more.
Mrs. Qin pushed another drink and a cake towards him: “I know you don’t want to see me, but I’m still here to meet you. I don’t want to talk too much about the contradictions between us. Talk more and make more mistakes.”
Lu Ying’s expression was calm and he didn’t answer.
He propped his chin with one hand and looked sideways at the street outside the window.
Mrs. Qin pursed her lips and continued: “In short, Zhuopu’s grandmother likes your son very much. The old man also hopes that you and Zaizai will come home with Zhuopu as soon as possible. Since you choose to be together, of course it’s better to live under one roof. I’m sure you’ve seen how busy Zhuopu is with his career, and how hard it is for him to run from place to place, right? You can see that with your own eyes.”
“Besides, there are many hidden dangers in living in two places. Can you rest assured that he is alone in Guanlan City? There are many people who want to get close to him.”
Lu Ying looked away and finally said: “Why do you suddenly want me to go to the Qin family? You were very firm at first.”
Mrs. Qin averted her eyes and said stiffly, “Because the elders are willing to accept you. Since they nod, of course I have no say.”
“Then what do you yourself think, Mrs. Qin?” Lu Ying asked again.
Mrs. Qin took a deep breath and said slowly, “My starting point is what is good for my son. I don’t want him to work too hard. Now I just want him to be healthy and happy.” Anyway, she completely gave up on the matter of in vitro fertilisation. Since the old man had spoken, she didn’t want to care about anything in future.
Lu Ying was speechless. He really didn’t know what this person was doing here. She had such a hard temper, so why did she come here to ‘try soft’?
Lu Ying pursed his lips and said bluntly, “You should stop talking about what is good for him. Why don’t you think about all the things you’ve done to Zhuopu over the years, and whether he felt good as a result?”
Mrs. Qin couldn’t answer because she knew the answer too well.
Lu Ying sighed, “So what if you are under pressure from your elders to accept me into the Qin family? I can’t live that kind of distorted life.”
“He and I are fine now, we each have our own business to attend to and it’s enough to get together when we can. Your family is your family, my family is my family. Qin Zhuopu is your son when he is at home, and he is my family when he is with me. There is no need to forcefully twist them together.”
Lu Ying added, “I know it’s hard for him to run around, but he didn’t ask me for anything himself, so there’s no need for Mrs. Qin to stand up for him. He is not a child and can say what he needs on his own. Our future plans and intentions are also a private matter for both of us.”
In short, he will make his own decisions about where he wants to come and what he wants to do, and will discuss it with Qin Zhuopu, but it has nothing to do with Mrs. Qin.
“I’m sure you haven’t told him you’re coming to see me, right?”
Mrs. Qin’s hand holding the cup trembled slightly, whether from anger or excitement.
She took a deep breath, “I am here this time with a simple purpose. It’s not to quarrel with you.”
Lu Ying smiled, “I know it’s not to quarrel, but you can let him know. It’s very simple, a phone call will do.”
Mrs. Qin was silent for a long time and said, “Grandpa Qin knows.”
“But Zhuopu doesn’t know.” Lu Ying curled his lips.
Mrs. Qin was impatient and felt that Lu Ying was too severe. She had not come to argue today, but to follow the old man’s wishes to show goodwill to Lu Ying, so that he could take the child to live in Guanlan City and stay by her son’s side in the future. It was as simple as that! There was no need to talk to her son at all.
Lu Ying saw her looking like that and frowned, “You don’t care about him at all. In front of you, he is rarely laughing and happy, right? In front of me, he laughs when he wants to and cries when he wants to.”
“……” Mrs. Qin looked shocked, “He… cries?” She found it incredible. Of course her son had cried in front of her, when he was a child.
Has he ever cried since he grew up? She didn’t know…
She remembered something all of a sudden; had her son cried when her husband died? Had her son cried when her mother-in-law died?
She hadn’t paid attention at all!
In all these years, the only time her son lost control of his emotions in front of her was when he found out Lu Ying was gone and he was furious at her.
She actually knew that after her husband’s death, too many things had been done by her son to appease her and comfort her, with Lu Ying being the only bottom line.
Now Lu Ying’s words made her panic.
“Mrs. Qin, do you look up to your son too much? He’s not a god made of iron, he’s just an ordinary person, he has all seven emotions and six desires(1). Crying and laughing are all basic human needs.”
Lu Ying flipped through his phone and opened a random photo. It was of Qin Zhuopu with Zaizai in a children’s playground in the UK. His face was painted with oil paint by Zaizai and was a mess, but Qin Zhuopu smiled happily, taking a selfie with his mobile phone. He complained: “Look at what your son did. He disfigured my handsome face. But I painted him even uglier, hahaha…”
Mrs. Qin looked at the picture on the screen and couldn’t recognise her own son for a long time. Not only because his face was painted, but also because the way he was laughing happily, showing a mouthful of white teeth, was too unfamiliar.
Lu Ying shook his head when he saw Mrs. Qin lost in thought.
When he first met Qin Zhuopu, he felt that the man was strong on the outside but soft on the inside. Every time they met, Qin Zhuopu was very happy. Lu Ying felt curious and asked him why he didn’t go home to accompany his lonely mother. Qin Zhuopu shook his head and said that going home would only make him more tired because his mother didn’t smile much.
On his mother’s birthday, he bought gifts and flowers, and invited her to dinner to make her happy. She shook her head and said she wouldn’t go, she would just eat a bowl of noodles at home. There was no joy when she saw flowers and gifts. When she found out that the gift was a beautiful cheongsam, she felt that the colour was too bright, and said that she didn’t need to dress up too nicely and told him not to bother too much in the future. She completely shut people out and immersed herself in the things she was obsessed with, the things she thought were ‘right’.
On Qin Zhuopu’s birthday, she made delicious food and didn’t even mention anything about the relationship between her son and Lu Ying, as if she didn’t mind too much. But then, behind Qin Zhuopu’s back, she approached Lu Ying, prying secretly, and immediately became rude when she found something on him.
Lu Ying was so stupid at the time that he thought that the ‘believe it or not, I know of your evil and I’ll get someone to seize you’ that came out of Mrs. Qin’s mouth was to get a Taoist priest to catch him… he was scared witless. Only later did he find out that it was just a matter of a fake graduation certificate. When he came down from the mountain, Brother Liu gave him a good ID card, bank card and graduation certificate. He carried them on the road and went directly to Guanlan City with Brother Ji to move bricks on the construction site. There was no need for any fake certificate.
Since then, he had a psychological shadow over fake certificates.
“Mrs. Qin, I’ve said all I have to say. If it’s okay, I have to go to work.”
As if awakened from a dream, Mrs. Qin hurriedly put down her cup, got up quickly and left her seat. She walked two steps and turned back, slowly saying, “No matter how bad I am in your heart, I have never been mean to a child. The old man likes to be lively with children. If you have time… you can take the child over to play anytime.”
“You’re busy.” Mrs. Qin hurriedly left the bakery and went to her luxury car that drove away soon after.
In the car, she sat in the back, frozen. She had personally come to say that she was willing to accept Lu Ying, not expecting the other party to refuse. She should have been furious and scolded him for not knowing what was good for him.
But as a result, Lu Ying’s words in turn made her heart… feel as uncomfortable as if there was a needle there.
She had to admit it.
Lu Ying knew and cared more about her son than she did.
He was a subtle and considerate person.
No wonder… her son could never forget him.
On the contrary, as a mother, she had really been more demanding than considerate of her son in the years since her husband’s death.
She regarded her son as an invincible mountain, and her son regarded her as a fragile and brittle vessel.
Talking to her son about his feelings, such a trivial thing didn’t exist for her.
He would talk to his grandmother, to his grandfather, never to her.
At home alone in the evening, Lu Ying and Qin Zhuopu had a video chat. It was still a lively day over there. Lu Ying saw the green grass and heard the joyful laughter of the child.
Qin Zhuopu was panting slightly and leaned close to the camera to talk to him, “We’re playing football today. Fortunately, we have some little friends now, so I don’t have to run all over the field with him at last.”
In the video, he was sweaty, wearing a sun hat on his head, and his skin was obviously a little tanned. Lu Ying snorted, “With your old arms and legs you still want to run with him. Needless to say, you’re at the bottom of our family in terms of physical strength.”
“…give me some face!” Qin Zhuopu said helplessly to his lover in the video, “You two have extraordinary physiques and eating capacity alike. You are both demons, I am an ordinary person who can’t compare. I admit defeat, I am at the bottom.” When he first met Lu Ying, he was stunned by Lu Ying’s superb physical strength and mobility. He thought he was going after a fresh, lovely, beautiful boy, but as soon as Lu Ying applied his hand… he wondered for a moment if he’d get rubbed raw.
Now when he thought about it, Lu Ying’s physique was really special and rare, otherwise… he wouldn’t have given birth to Zaizai. Qin Zhuopu felt even more determined in his decision to protect Lu Ying and the child no matter what. After he got the identification results of Zaizai earlier, he subconsciously went to erase all traces.
Lu Ying lay on his pillow, laughing, and poked the man’s sweaty face on the screen: “Good, good, you’re very self-aware.”
Qin Zhuopu hurriedly spoke for himself, “But among ordinary people, my physique is definitely superior, otherwise how can I serve you, huh, right?”
Lu Ying smothered his face in the pillow and laughed sheepishly, “Don’t be like that, you make it sound like I’m bullying you.”
“No bullying, no bullying, I especially like it when you bully me.”
“Get lost, shut up! You tease me on the phone, believe it or not, I will change the password and you will not be able to enter the door next time.”
“Go ahead and change it, that’s exactly what I want. I’m too tired these days, dealing with the child is more exhausting than dealing with you. I won’t have the strength to keep up with you when I get back, so you might dislike me for being too hasty. Tsk tsk, I have to take a break first when I go back, so I can make up for it.”
“You’re big pig hoof, Qin Zhuopu!” Lu Ying threw his phone in annoyance.
Qin Zhuopu stared at the lover who was hammering the pillow to vent on the screen of his mobile phone. He laughed very happily. With his back to the child, he bent over and kissed the person on the mobile phone: “Don’t be angry, don’t be angry, when I return home, I will go to you immediately! I bought you a gift, you will definitely like it.”
“What is it? “Lu Ying asked hurriedly, adding smoothly: “Is it delicious?”
Qin Zhuopu was delighted: “Eat and eat, always eat, always looking for something delicious. Be careful of becoming like Zaizai.”
“Huh, if I’m going to be fat like a ball, what about you? You won’t like me, will you?” Lu Ying glared at him fiercely.
Qin Zhuopu shook his head, “I wouldn’t dare. I’d like you even if you were a ball of fat. I’d still love you.”
Lu Ying laughed, “Really?”
“I’m not going to lie, chubby is also good, it must definitely feel better.”
Qin Zhuopu said honestly, “I’m not as good as you in this aspect.” Back then, he was still trying to figure out how to get Lu Ying’s first kiss without getting beaten up when he got pinned against the wall unexpectedly and his lips were nibbled on! Who’s the pervert, do you even need to ask?
“Shut up, you! Go kick your ball.”
“No more kicking, I just want to talk to you.” Qin Zhuopu sat down on the grass and stared at Lu Ying’s messy hair and delicate face on the screen, praising, “My favourite person is so pretty.”
Lu Ying snorted, “If I don’t look good, you won’t like me?”
“I’m not that superficial. I like your inner side more than your good-looking face.”
“Hehe…(*^▽^*)” Lu Ying giggled, “What a sweet mouth you have today.”
Qin Zhuopu pulled out a lollipop from his pocket, “I ate candy with my son today.”
Squinting his eyes and smiling, Lu Ying couldn’t have been more charming.
Qin Zhuopu said, “I’m afraid you’re really a demon.” Even through the screen, the charm could not be stopped.
Lu Ying’s eyes widened and he coughed lightly, “Then guess what kind of demon I am?”
Qin Zhuopu whispered, “A fox spirit.”
“I’m not a fox spirit!” Lu Ying frowned, “Keep guessing!”
Are you serious? Qin Zhuopu was helpless, “White Bone Spirit.”
“Fuck! You’re scaring me.” He wasn’t a miserable white bone spirit, terrible!
“A flower demon, I guess.” Qin Zhuopu laughed, “Flower demons are the ones who look as good as you and smell as good.”
Lu Ying’s eyes curved with laughter again and he waved his head, “Flower demons are indeed good looking, but how can I be a flower demon when I eat so much?”
Qin Zhuopu held his forehead. The game was not over yet, was it?
“A bear, I guess. Bears can eat and sleep, and have great strength.”
“You’re a blind bear!” Lu Ying was furious, “Keep guessing.”
“A snake demon, I think, entangling people.”
“Nice try.” How could he be as flexible as a snake?
Qin Zhuopu saw a flock of ducks swimming in the lake next to him, “Just like you with their butts up. You’re a duck.”
Lu Ying took a deep breath, “Qin Zhuopu, I’m going to blacklist you!”
The screen really went black.
Qin Zhuopu didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh.
“Uncle, did you just talk to my dad?” Lu Zaizai came running over, drenched in sweat.
Qin Zhuopu nodded and took out a towel to wipe his face: “Yes, he’s going to bed now, it’s late there.”
“Hey, I didn’t even get to talk to my dad today. Does my dad miss me?” Lu Zaizai asked happily.
Qin Zhuopu handed him water and smiled deeply, “Yes, he misses me.”
He missed Lu Ying too, so much so that he couldn’t sleep at night.
Qin Zhuopu’s vacation was only fifteen days, and he had a lot of work to catch up on when he returned. But this half month he did his duty and put all his heart and soul into taking the child to have fun. He deeply experienced the difficulty of being a father. He was tired from playing with the energetic child every day. It was absolutely physical work! His heart was also tired as he didn’t dare not take it lightly even for a minute, fearing that the child would leave his sight in a flash. These days, even his bodyguards were on edge, focused on following the child.
And this was already a big boy who could run, jump and communicate.
He couldn’t imagine how he would dare to carry a baby who was completely unable to communicate for half a month on his own. Half a day would be too much.
Lu Zaizai had been brought up by Lu Ying from birth for six years. Without the help of relatives or good financial conditions, Lu Ying relied on his own hands and physical strength to provide food and clothing for the child.
Lu Ying had always been optimistic, but during these years of raising the child, had he ever cried in secret when he was tired? Originally, at his young age, he should have had the best years of his youth, having fun and enjoying himself. Instead, he had to devote all his time and energy to his child.
Many times Qin Zhuopu asked himself, if he were in his early twenties, would he dare to have a child? No, he would never even have thought of the word “child”.
He was the one who had caused all this.
Lu Ying was still willing to love him, it really was… a blessing.
Right after eight o’clock in the evening Beijing time, at Guanlan City Airport, Qin Zhuopu led Lu Zaizai off the plane. Lu Zaizai had been asleep for a long time and was full of energy at this moment.
“Uncle, wait a minute. Is there anything delicious in your house? I am hungry again.” Lu Zaizai begged as he shook Qin Zhuopu’s hand.
Qin Zhuopu lowered his head slightly and said to him, “What do you want to eat? I’ll ask the auntie at home to prepare it.”
“Anything delicious, rice, noodles, dumplings and steamed buns, I don’t want to eat burgers anyway.” Lu Zaizai looked disgusted. A lot of foreign things tasted really bad. They were not as delicious as the ones Uncle made.
“Okay, you can eat it when we come home.”
The flight was direct to Guanlan City; he was going to take Lu Zaizai home tonight to rest first, and then send him back to Lu Ying tomorrow.
Secretary Huang waved at Qin Zhuopu from afar, and when they came closer, Secretary Huang hurriedly whispered, “Old Master and Mrs. Qin are here, waiting for you.”
Qin Zhuopu paused: “Grandpa is actually here at this late hour?” Grandpa was old; he rarely went out and went to bed early every day.
“Yes, I did try to persuade them not to come. But the Old Master asked about your flight arrival time and said he had to come over to see… ahem, not to see you, Mr. Qin, but to see the child.”
“…oh.” Qin Zhuopu understood.
Lu Zaizai pointed to himself curiously, “Is it to see me? Who is the old master?”
Qin Zhuopu smiled and stroked the child’s head: “Old Master is my grandfather. Zaizai will call him Great-grandpa when he sees him later, okay?”
Lu Zaizai nodded, “Okay, I remember, Great-grandpa.”
The two of them quickly walked out of the airport, and Qin Zhuopu saw the white-haired old man at the exit, standing there with a cane and a serious face, as if he was afraid they would run away. Qin Zhuopu was helpless and walked forward quickly with the child in his arms: “Grandpa, I’m back.”
Elder Qin nodded, his eyes fixed on the fat child Qin Zhuopu was holding, his serious expression softening to a kind smile, “Good boy, that’s good, that’s good.”
“Zaizai, this is Great-grandpa.”
Lu Zaizai was amazed by the abundance of the white hair on the old man’s head. This was the whitest and the hairiest old man he had ever seen, almost like Santa Claus, but he didn’t have a white beard! How strange.
Lu Zaizai said loudly, “Great-grandpa!”
“Good, good, good!” The old man laughed and said it three times in a row, and couldn’t help but reach out and touch the top of the child’s hair, “Good boy. Great-grandpa has prepared a lot of delicious snacks in the car, are you hungry?” He had heard from his grandson that the child was a big eater, so he had come here fully prepared.
“En, I’ve been hungry a long time ago, the food on the plane wasn’t good at all.” Lu Zaizai nodded honestly.
“Grandpa, let’s get in the car and talk.” Qin Zhuopu helped the old man, who handed his cane to his secretary and insisted on taking Lu Zaizai’s hand: “Child, did you have fun out there?”
“Yes, there was a lot of fun there, I even flew into the sky!” There was so much fun, but Lu Zaizai thought the most amazing thing was to ride a hot air balloon and skydive, something he had only seen in cartoons and books before!
“Haha, that’s because you’re brave enough to do it, Great-grandpa wouldn’t dare…”
“Actually it’s not scary at all…”
Several people laughed as they walked towards the car. Mrs. Qin was standing by the car waiting. Qin Zhuopu called out, “Mom.”
Hearing the child’s loud voice, Mrs. Qin hurriedly responded, “Zaizai…”
“We’ve met before, so you’re Uncle’s mother!” Lu Zaizai was surprised, quickly pulling out the red rope around his neck, “Grandma, look, the little pig you gave me in the hospital, my dad put it on the red rope for me. I’ve been carrying it all the time, oh. Thank you, Grandma, the little piggy is very cute.”
Mrs. Qin took a breath to hide her inexplicable excitement.
“Good, that’s good that you like it.” Mrs. Qin had mixed emotions that were hard to describe, not to mention the fact that the child was really cute.
“Let’s get in the car, I’m hungry too.” Qin Zhuopu took the child into the car. The car was spacious and arranged like a small restaurant with lots of delicious food on the table.
The family went in and sat down. Qin Zhuopu took off all the lids and Lu Zaizai became even more hungry when he smelled the aromas.
Qin Zhuopu put a portion of dumplings for the child and also ate them unceremoniously.
The old man and Mrs. Qin were not hungry, so they sat next to each other and watched the two of them eat. In fact, they watched Lu Zaizai eat.
The old man filled Lu Zaizai’s bowl with wontons, fried dumplings, shredded pork noodles, seafood porridge and white grilled prawns…
Looking at it, the old man laughed, “This kid is really the same as Lu Ying, he can eat and drink! I remember the first time Lu Ying came to my place, he had a good appetite when he ate. When I’m old, I like to watch people with a good appetite eat, it’s very mouth-watering.”
Qin Zhuopu was full after one bowl and watched his son’s mesmerising eating from the side, handing him a tissue from time to time.
The old man smiled and sighed, “It’s a blessing to be able to eat. Are you coming home tonight?”
Qin Zhuopu nodded, “I’ll take Zaizai to my place and send him home tomorrow. Grandpa, Mom, you go home and get some rest.”
“Okay.” The old man didn’t force him. Anyway, he had finally met the child today and there was one less thing weighing on his mind. In any case, it was better to see than to hear. He believed that there was a family connection; this boy, the first time he saw him, he liked him and felt inexplicably affectionate. The boy was so chubby, so white, so cute.
It didn’t matter whose son he was; if his grandson recognised the boy, he did too.
The following day, Qin Zhuopu sent the child back to Caifeng City in person and only had time to kiss Lu Ying before he had to leave in a hurry.
Throughout the hot summer, the two of them only met three times in total, and the time passed in the blink of an eye.
One early morning at the end of August, Lu Ying got up refreshed, put on clean and decent clothes, and took the information and money.
“Come on, Zaizai, Dad will get you enrolled. From September 1, you’ll be a primary school student!”
Lu Ying: Guess what kind of demon I am?
Mr. Qin: A chrysanthemum spirit?(2)
Lu Ying: (beating up violently)
- Seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, thought, grief, fear, fright. Six desires generally refer to the eyes (desire to see, greed for beauty, colour, and strange objects), ears (desire to hear, greed for beautiful sounds and praises), nose (desire for fragrance, greed for fragrance), tongue (desire for taste, craving for delicious food), body (desire to touch, greed for comfort and enjoyment), meaning (desire, greed for sensuality, fame and fortune, affection)
- You probably know, but in case you don’t, chrysanthemum is a euphemism for anus 🙂 🙂