Gao Xi was in a hurry to go home, for no other reason than it was Xu Moran’s birthday tomorrow.
Guan He wanted him to stay for two more days to give the new designers some guidance on freehand drawing.
But Gao Xi curved his peach blossom eyes in a smile and begged for mercy again and again, so cute that no one could bear to refuse him.
Guan He knew how important Xu Moran was to Gao Xi, and although he scolded him for focusing on the opposite sex and ignoring his friends, he let him go with a sullen face.
Gao Xi smiled and asked Guan He to keep it a secret; he wanted to go back and give his Xu Moran a surprise.
Guan He couldn’t help but snort and roll up his eyes, and Gao Xi smiled even more happily.
On the phone in the early morning, Gao Xi said that he would not be able to go back until the day after tomorrow.
Xu Moran smiled and said that birthdays were celebrated every year, so there was no need to come, take good care of yourself out there.
Xu Moran had always been like this, spoiling Gao Xi to the bone.
Everything was wonderful. When Gao Xi took a taxi from the airport to his home, he couldn’t help smiling all the time.
It was already dawn, and he arrived home just in time to offer a wake-up service and surprise Xu Moran.
Maybe it would lead to a nice exercise in the bed.
He couldn’t help but feel a little smug.
This was the fifteenth birthday he spent with Xu Moran.
Since the age of seventeen, when the two of them held hands, they had never been separated again, spending each other’s birthdays together.
Gao Xi had always felt that he was a very lucky person, with a happy family, enlightened parents, and a career that he loved.
More importantly, he met Xu Moran when he was young, and neither of them wasted time looking for someone else or missing each other.
Everything was perfect.
With a smile, Gao Xi quietly opened the door of his house and froze for a moment when he heard a strange noise coming from the bedroom.
He tensed a little, but then smiled and shook his head to dismiss his imagination that was running wild.
His steps stiff, he pushed the half-open bedroom door and saw Zhao Chun.
With misty eyes and crimson face, Zhao Chun was sitting on Xu Moran, his back swaying.
A part of Xu Moran’s body was sinking deep into him, and Xu Moran’s hands were holding his waist, cooperating with Zhao Chun’s ups and downs…
Violent gasps and soft chanting drummed through Gao Xi’s ears and the strong smell in the room pierced his heart through his nostrils.
Gao Xi blinked at a loss.
That was Xu Moran. How could Xu Moran betray him? It was ridiculous…
That was Zhao Chun, his and Xu Moran’s best friend. How could it be? Impossible…
He almost looked up to the sky and laughed (meaning not to think about something and act as if nothing happened), using laughter to shatter this dream-like bubble.
Gao Xi thought he was in a nightmare dream.
He raised his hand to his lips, his face white, and bit hard on the back of his hand, hoping to save himself from the nightmare.
All he got in return was a sharp pain and the taste of blood filling his mouth.
His lips were tinged with red that matched his pale cheeks in an eerie way.
Everything was real, there was no retreat, no escape, and Gao Xi’s whole body trembled.
The two people moving on the bed also noticed him at this time.
Xu Moran’s honey-coloured skin turned bloodless and his lips were pale. He pushed Zhao Chun off his body and called in a trembling voice: “Xiao Xi…”
Gao Xi rushed out of the house, numb, shivering with fear.
He was afraid that Xu Moran would catch up with him, afraid that he would forgive Xu Moran, afraid that he would not be able to forgive Xu Moran, and even more afraid to face this nightmarishly comical scene…
Afraid… afraid of many, many things.
He stepped on the gas, just wanting to leave quickly.
When he was seventeen, holding Xu Moran’s hand, he thought that they would hold each other tight for the rest of their lives and never let go again.
On that sunny afternoon when they were eighteen, they kissed for the first time, and Xu Moran said he would love and protect him forever.
In their twenties, during the difficult period of starting their own business, Xu Moran always kissed him again and again at night, telling him that he would definitely give him a better life.
Whenever Gao Xi recalled it later, he always felt that it was a very sweet time. What hardships were there?
What were those difficulties, those disdainful looks, compared to the warm embrace of each other?
Xu Moran really didn’t want Gao Xi to suffer, he really held him in the palm of his hand for fifteen years.
They didn’t have the seven-year itch, they had always loved passionately and purely, with the innocence and persistence of the teenagers they were when they first met.
Gao Xi always thought that their feelings were not contaminated with the earthly things, so pure that he felt sweet and proud when he thought of it.
Fifteen years later, following their original yearning for home, they together became the most famous interior designers in China.
They designed loving homes for thousands of families and named their studio after themselves: Moxi.
(Mo for Xu Moran and Xi for Gao Xi, but with different characters; also means “Moses”, like the Bible’s Moses)
And now, what about his own home? Lost!
What an irony!
There was a loud bang, as if coming from far away, slowly and heavily filling his ears.
A shy, contented smile of the young man was still reflected in Gao Xi’s eyes.
The two tightly held hands, in harmony, their fingers interlocked…
So beautiful, like a picture only seen in a movie.
The moment the car broke through the guardrail and fell straight into the river, everything turned into slow motion.
There was no time for panic, no time for pain, no time for dismay, not even time for hate…
Gao Xi died on September 16th, Xu Moran’s birthday, at the age of thirty-two.
From then on, there was no more Gao Xi in the world, only a wisp of an unhappy ghost.
“Brother, brother…” The girl’s voice seemed to come persistently across thousands of rivers and mountains, as if crossing the gap between life and death, indistinct.
Gao Xi listened intently, but in the darkness, only his sense of hearing still stubbornly existed, and the cries that seemed both real and illusory were intermittent, far and near.
Gao Xi struggled to make a sound: “Gao Yuan…”
The lips of the young man on the hospital bed moved slightly, and the girl sitting next to him stood up hastily, staring straight at his pale face.
She was so nervous that she was afraid to breathe, fearing that she was mistaken, so she kept praying in her heart, move a little more, move a little more…
Just as the girl was suffocating to the point of pain in her chest, the young man’s dry, cracked lips moved slightly again.
The girl pressed the bedside button with a trembling hand, tears dripping down her face, “Brother, brother…” Her mind was blank from the huge surprise that hit her.
In a haze of tears, she saw the man in the hospital bed open his eyes with difficulty, but then close them tightly again.
The girl wiped away her tears with her sleeve because the tears distorted everything she saw. As she wanted to crouch down to look more closely, the medical staff rushed in.
The girl grabbed the doctor’s sleeve: “Doctor, look at my brother, my brother, he woke up just now… He’s saved, right?”
The young nurse pulled her away: “Miss Shen, calm down, let’s take a look at the patient first.”
Shen Yun was indeed awake; but he had forgotten his past.
Shen Qing sat on the edge of the hospital bed and looked at Shen Yun with some confusion. Her brother who woke up seemed completely different from before.
After the initial panic, he calmed down, and now his whole being exuded a quiet aura, from his bones to his appearance, calm and serene.
He listened to Shen Qing talk about the previous events without saying a word, very different from the timid, cowering and even somewhat weak young man he used to be.
Gao Xi was awakened by that sorrowful “Brother, brother…”
In the absolute darkness, with the ethereal call for “Brother”, Gao Xi saw the eight-year-old Gao Yuan fall into the water.
Gao Yuan called him: “Brother, brother!”
He desperately stretched out his hand to her, but no matter how hard he tried, there was always a gap between their hands.
Gao Xi shouted desperately: “Gao Yuan, Gao Yuan!”
Gao Yuan gradually sank, first her head, then her arms, and finally her fingertips were submerged…
Gao Xi opened his eyes in horror.
The world in front of him was blurred, and his eyes, which had not seen light for too long, filled with tears in extreme discomfort the moment they were opened.
He closed his eyes tightly, but even with a glimpse, he recognised that he was lying in the hospital bed now.
The unfamiliar girl by the bed was eagerly calling him “Brother”.
Who was the girl? Why did she call him brother?
Then the doctor and the nurses started asking him again and again:
“Mr. Shen, are you uncomfortable?”
“Mr. Shen, how do you feel?”
Gao Xi muttered in a daze: “Who am I?”
“So that’s how it is.” Shen Qing quietly wiped away her tears.
The girl was pitifully thin, her hair was an unhealthy shade of withered yellow, and her hands were unspeakably rough. Her clothes were not new and obviously a little small for her body.
Gao Xi hadn’t really accepted the absurdity of it all until this moment.
He had always thought that those rebirth novels were all figments of authors’ imagination to combat the helplessness of the real world.
But now he had to accept the fact that he had really been reborn, reborn in the body of a young man called Shen Yun.
From Shen Qing’s narration, Gao Xi learned that Shen Yun and Shen Qing had been living with their father.
Their mother had left home when Shen Qing was little, and their father was a gambler for many years, so Shen Yun and Shen Qing started to earn their own living a long time ago.
Two years ago, their father even sold the only apartment he owned.
Last year Shen Yun graduated from university and worked as an assistant designer in a small design studio.
There was some hope slowly appearing in their life, but they didn’t expect their father to borrow from loan sharks again.
Three months ago, the debt collection agency found Shen Yun because they couldn’t find his father.
During the argument between the two sides, Shen Yun was hit on the back of his head by the other party and fainted. He didn’t wake up until today.
Gao Xi blinked, stretched out his hand to dry the girl’s tears, and looked at Shen Qing with some pity.
He knew in his heart that since he used someone else’s body, he had to take on someone else’s responsibility.
Well, he also had some things that he needed to get back from Xu Moran, and some things that he needed to return to him.
He lowered his head and gently curved up the corners of his lips.
It was just that he didn’t see his face.
The smile in the corners of his lips was malicious and decisive, like a flaming red spider lily, seductive and terrifying.
Gao Xi, who was gentle and sunny and saw countless beautiful things with his eyes, was no longer there.
What there was now was just Shen Yun, living in the most humble corner of the world, with the most determined mind.