“Never used it?” Ou Renjin noticed his gaze.
036 nodded; indeed he hadn’t used it before.
“I’ll have someone send one over to you tomorrow, take your time and learn to use it.”
036’s eyes widened slightly, and he paused for a moment in surprise before nodding in agreement.
Ou Renjin found him somewhat cute, so he reached out and hooked his neck, squeezing his nape gently, as if petting a kitten or a puppy.
036 didn’t dodge or show any discomfort, just looking ahead quietly until he saw Aunt Zhou.
Aunt Zhou had almost walked into the kitchen when she finally met his gaze and immediately flashed him a big smile. He recalled her previous instructions, but he still didn’t have a pen and paper, so he simply took Ou Renjin’s hand and wrote a few words on his palm.
Because it was inconvenient, he tried to write as concisely as possible, but even so, Ou Renjin was already itchy and couldn’t help curling his fingers. When 036 reached the third word, Ou Renjin finally clenched his fist.
036 held his wrist and looked at him, puzzled.
Ou Renjin let him hold his hand, scratched his palm with his fingernails subconsciously, and explained, “I’m a bit ticklish.”
036 looked helplessly at the kitchen, but Aunt Zhou had already gone in and there was no one to tell him what to do at the moment. He looked down in silence for a short while, tried to open his mouth, and made a soft “um” sound.
The sound was only a tiny bit louder than his breath. Ou Renjin didn’t pay attention, he only noticed that the man next to him lowered his head a little, so he adjusted his sitting position and spread his palm out again, “The first two words are ‘stay to’, what else do you want to write?”
This time, 036 successfully finished writing the word ‘eat’ and breathed a sigh of relief as he completed his task.
“Yes, I’ll leave after I’ve eaten.” Ou Renjin was in no hurry to leave, as it happened, and 036’s every move made him feel very interested.
He looked down and sent a message on WeChat, instructing Guan Qijun to bring a new phone over immediately, and bring a laptop and e-book reader too. Then he habitually opened his mailbox, answered a few emails and dealt with business matters for a while.
Only when Aunt Zhou called them for dinner did Ou Renjin realise that 036 was a little abnormally quiet, the kind of quiet that was not the quiet of someone who was mute and unable to make a sound, but the kind of absolute stillness that made you ignore one’s presence. The young man was sitting right next to him, and his every move could be caught by Ou Renjin’s peripheral vision, but after he put on a focused appearance, the young man had not made a single movement, he had not changed his posture, he had not even moved a finger.
Aware of Ou Renjin’s measuring gaze, 036 turned his head and saw the rich man slowly smile, spreading his palms on his knees, “It seems that I haven’t had time to ask, what’s your name?”
When he smiled, the impression he made was worlds away from when he was not smiling, warm and intimate, all the distance disappearing in a moment.
036 grabbed the tips of his fingers and wanted to write his number, which, he knew, wasn’t really a name, but there was no other way he could be called by other people. He had just finished drawing half a circle when he suddenly stopped there.
He thought that since the rich man could bring him out of the laboratory, he must know his details and number, but what he was asking now was his name, the name that everyone in the outside world would have and be called by so gently.
He brushed his fingers over the spot where he’d started writing, meaning that it didn’t count, then shook his head and rewrote a few words.
“You name me.”
Ou Renjin held back from jerking his hand away this time, and after figuring out 036’s reply, he raised an eyebrow in some surprise, smiling a little arrogantly, “Let me name you? How about taking my surname then?”
036 nodded, his eyes full of excitement and trust.
The words were originally just a tease and a joke when they were spoken, but when the other party responded with such solemn anticipation, it was impossible to end it as a joke.
Ou Renjin was silent for a moment, “A name is something that will follow a person for the rest of their life, are you sure you want me to name you?”
036 nodded with a very positive look.
“Then let’s call you Ou Shaowen.” (Shaowen as an idiom that means “lack of literary talent” but if you take the characters separately, it might be “stop writing” or “less writing”, which is probably the meaning of Ou Renjin’s joke.) He kneaded 036’s fingers and stretched out his hand to compare them. They were exactly the same length. “Was originally going to call my son that.”
He teased again, but this Xiao Heihu (literally “little guy from the black household”) from some ravine was not aware of his teasing. He looked as if he had received a gift he had never expected to receive, and there was joy and satisfaction hidden under the calm surface.
“I don’t suppose you have an ID card either?”
Sure enough, there was another puzzled look.
Ou Renjin then made a phone call in front of him and made arrangements for someone to bring him the relevant documents in a few days.
“Well, let’s go eat first.” Ou Renjin let go of his hand.
Aunt Zhou had already served the last dish, steaming hot. Sitting at the dining table, 036 was not very proficient at holding chopsticks. When he was in the lab before, during organ transplantations, for convenience he was directly fed the nutrient solution. Sometimes, if there was no surgery for long periods of time, he occasionally ate the meals of the employees. He always cherished such opportunities to get to know what something tasted like.
After an unusually quiet dinner, Ou Renjin drove away. Closing the car door, he glanced back at the well-lit villa. His suspicions were verified by a few points, but at the same time some new doubts arose.
Xiao Heihu had lived in simple enough circumstances before, without ever using a car or mobile phone, yet he had a basic understanding of them. No relatives or friends, rarely interacting with people, but responding scrupulously to every communication you wanted to make. No name, no identity information and a vague idea of identity credentials, lacking some common sense but with a basic education.
Originally, in this situation, it would be most likely that he had lived in a poor mountain valley; but it was clear that he had a strange love and curiosity for the green plants that should be common for the countryside mountain villages.
Ou Renjin reached out and pressed his hand to his beating heart, chuckling softly.
Soon after the rich man left, Ou Shaowen got a bunch of electronic equipment that he had asked to be delivered to him, and the person who came was very dutiful in teaching him how to use each and every thing. In fact, Ou Shaowen didn’t really need such detailed instruction; he had watched the researchers use the more complex instruments many times and knew the basic operation of these electronic devices well enough, but he didn’t say much, listening quietly and then expressing his thanks with his eyes.
After the man left, the room returned to quiet. Ou Shaowen picked up his phone and began to explore every function in it. It wasn’t too difficult. He quickly flipped to the contacts page where Ou Renjin’s phone number had been properly saved. This time he did experiment for a long time before he managed to send a text message over.
“The phone has been received, thank you.”
All the knowledge he had now was what the lab had taught him back then for testing purposes. He completed all the courses up to senior middle school in a very short time. During the period, he showed outstanding talents in language, memory, and sports. However, although his understanding of mathematics, physics, chemistry and other subjects was higher than that of an ordinary person, it was not good enough in the laboratory dominated by science geniuses. At this point, he lost his added value beyond that of an organ petri dish, and the teaching of him in the laboratory was regarded as useless and stopped.
Now, although a long time had passed, it was good that he still remembered the use of pinyin.
He wanted to ask about the transplant surgery, but everything was so beautiful now that he avoided it with a reluctance of having his dream shattered. Since the rich man himself was in no hurry, one day he could steal was one day more.
He didn’t receive a reply to his text message, and he didn’t care. That evening he walked in the courtyard in silence for a long time, until the night dew was heavy, and then, with a renewed sense of calm, he returned to his room.
The bed that was too big and too soft made him sleep very restlessly. He woke up early the next day, went downstairs and turned around, heard the movement in the kitchen, walked over and stood quietly next to the door.
Aunt Zhou was making breakfast. She looked like she could only make dumplings and noodles, but what she was making at the moment was an exquisite Western breakfast. A very beautifully fried egg was served on a plate, sprinkled with garnish, accompanied by cherry tomatoes cut in halves and Chinese celery. The cereals were beaten into a smoothie with fruit, honey and milk and meticulously decorated on the surface with a row of blueberries, a row of strawberries and a row of mango pieces, sprinkled with a few small flowers and a few nuts. It was brightly coloured; next to it was a plate containing sandwiches already cut, one sweet and smeared with a special jam, and one savoury, with bacon and ham.
“You’re just in time for breakfast.” Aunt Zhou smiled very brightly as soon as she saw him.
Ou Shaowen nodded, took the two plates she was holding and carried them to the table outside.
“I don’t know your taste, so I tried to make a little bit of simple things. If you are not used to eating something, just tell me. I cook a bit of both Western and Chinese food.” Just as she said this, for some reason Ou Shaowen’s eyes suddenly filled with emotions. When he stared straight at you like that, everything he wanted to say was shining in those beautiful eyes, making your heart throb.
Aunt Zhou secretly cried out, this young master was much more powerful than the previous ones. Being looked at like that made her old heart skip a beat; she couldn’t wait to cook him a hundred more delicious meals.
By the time she came back to her senses, Ou Shaowen had already shown her the screen of his mobile phone, with a row of words typed on the notepad page: I wanted to tell you yesterday, I’ve never eaten anything so delicious, thank you.
After one night, he had become much more proficient at typing.
Aunt Zhou laughed even more, “Haha, saying such polite words, you can get whatever you like.”
Ou Shaowen ate everything of this somewhat sumptuous breakfast and ran to the kitchen to help Aunt Zhou finish washing all the dishes. Aunt Zhou refused a few times, but he silently cleaned the blender carefully as if he didn’t understand.
When she met Uncle Li, Auntie Zhou couldn’t help but sigh, “This time, it’s a worry-free master, but sometimes he’s a bit too pitiful and it hurts to look at him.”