Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lu Rong kept his eyes on Shen Jize, “My brother and I worshipped in the back of the mountain when we were children, saying that I was his wife and that I must go to the city to find him…”
Xiao Chu cupped the paper in his hand, and the more he listened, the more he heard something wrong, looking at Lu Rong in horror and asking, “What are you talking about? Are you here to apply for a job as a bodyguard? Did you come to the wrong place? Which security company do you work for?”
Lu Rong’s thoughts were confused and he blurted out, “Yes, I am here to apply for the position of a wife…”
Xiao Chu: !!!
“A bodyguard.” Lu Rong changed his words again.
Shen Jize, who had been keeping his head down, finally raised his head slowly, and met his eyes.
Lu Rong wanted to show a smile, but couldn’t mobilize the muscles of his face, and the result was only a deflated mouth, with tears following.
Shen Jize looked at him in a daze, with waves of shock surging under his eyes. He abruptly stood up from behind his desk. The chair was knocked back a few steps, and the phone fell to the floor.
He remembered me, he really remembered me.
Lu Rong felt extremely grateful, his high hanging heart finally happy to fall back to its original place, and his tears were flowing incessantly.
The two of them were standing in this lounge, looking at each other across a desk. But it was not just a desk, there were more than ten years of separation between them. The person on the other side of the table was so familiar, yet unfamiliar.
“Brother…” Lu Rong murmured.
The voice was small, but Shen Jize heard it clearly.
The sound of this ‘brother’ brought up countless images before his eyes.
The child crying in tears that said you don’t want me anymore, pouting in his arms for candy, laughing and splashing him with water to wash his nails…
Brother, brother, brother…
Those voices lingered in his mind, and the child’s face gradually merged with the older young man across the room, both with big eyes containing tears, looking at him with infinite affection.
“Rong Rong,” Shen Jize responded in a soft voice. He crossed the desk and walked towards Lu Rong with uncontrollable excitement on his face. But a few steps away, he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
Lu Rong also stood up at this moment, and when Shen Jize stopped in front of him, he had already pounced on him impatiently, like a bird of prey throwing itself into the forest, and threw himself into that solid embrace.
“Brother… Oooh… Brother.” Lu Rong hands hanging tightly on Shen Jize’s neck, desperately trying to burrow into his arms. But he felt that it wasn’t close enough, so he put his face on his neck and rubbed his tears on it.
The search and hope for so many years finally came to fruition, and he felt his heart was so happy that it seemed to explode, yet he was so sad.
Shen Jize’s always calm demeanor also collapsed, as he tilted his head, closed his eyes, and held the person in his arms tightly.
From the time he stood up, Xiao Chu didn’t make any sound. At this time, he was pressed tightly against the wall, trying to relax his breathing, like a portrait without presence.
“You said you would come to see me during winter break, why didn’t you come? I waited for you for a long, long, long time… You’re too bad, you’re really too bad… I didn’t mean to not answer your calls. Our village was destroyed and the phones were gone… Why didn’t you keep your promise to come and see me…” Lu Rong cried and complained, but his hands didn’t let go of Shen Jize’s neck.
Shen Jize buried his face into the top of his hair and only called out softly, “Rong Rong, Rong Rong, Rong Rong…”
There was a choking sound in his voice.
“…But I still wanted to find Brother, I still came to you, even though you’re so bad, I still wanted to find Brother…” Lu Rong cried and kissed him on the neck again. “You said I’m not garbage, that you would come to pick me up and never leave, and that I have a husband, called Shen Jize, and that when I grow up I will be with him… You lied to me…”
Lu Rong choked and complained, just after kissing his neck and suddenly opened his mouth, and bit Shen Jize’s shoulder.
Shen Jize’s body trembled slightly, but he didn’t dodge away, nor did he push Lu Rong away, instead, his eyes were red and he hugged him tighter. He seemed to only be able to spit out one word, but his voice was trembling, “Rong Rong, Rong Rong, Rong Rong…”
“I hate you…” Lu Rong let go of his mouth and reached up to pluck his collar again, his teary eyes blurred as he tried to see the teeth marks.
There were a few tiny teeth marks on the light brown skin, not deep and didn’t break any skin. He rubbed his fingers over the marks, but Shen Jize took hold of them and said in a hoarse voice, “Bite it, it doesn’t hurt, keep biting.”
Xiao Chu turned around with the slowest movement, facing the wall, like a portrait that had been turned around and hung.
Shen Jize patted Lu Rong’s back and whispered soothingly in the low, magnetic voice of a grown man, and Lu Rong’s agitation finally subsided and he stopped weeping, only leaning on his shoulder and occasionally hiccupping.
“Rong Rong, let go of me first. Let Brother get you tissues, okay?” Shen Jize asked in a soft voice.
Lu Rong, however, tightened his arm around his waist and said in a jarring voice, “No.” He rubbed his face on his shoulder, “I’ll use this to wipe.” After saying that and then switching to his right shoulder to lean on his head, “That side is wet.”
Shen Jize laughed twice, Lu Rong’s ear was pressed against his chest, and suddenly he lifted his head to stare at his face.
“What’s wrong?” Shen Jize asked.
Lu Rong said, “Brother, you’ve become very strange.”
“How am I strange?”
“You’ve grown up and your voice has changed. It’s like a stranger’s talking to me, it feels weird.” Lu Rong still had tears on his face and his eyes were red and swollen, but he puffed out a laugh.
“But you haven’t changed at all.” Shen Jize said.
Lu Rong asked with a little leap of faith, “Really? Haven’t changed at all?”
Shen Jize said, “You’re still not strong, you cry all the time, and you cry like a rabbit.”
Lu Rong suddenly became a little embarrassed, twisted his body, and said, “Actually, I haven’t cried for a long time.”
——I haven’t cried a lot since the end of that winter break.
He said this silently in his heart.
The two of them were quietly hugging each other, not saying a word, but both could feel the other’s joy at having found what had been lost.
The rain outside had stopped at some point and the clouds had opened up. Lu Rong bathed in the soft sunlight, half-squinting his swollen eyes, enjoying the peace brought to him by Shen Jize’s embrace. His hair was also brown from the sunlight, a bit messy but soft, and Shen Jize looked down and suddenly wanted to give him a kiss on it.
This was the boy he had been thinking about, the deepest obsession of his growing up years, the missing piece in the gap of his heart. The boy now leaned meekly into his arms, telling him with a gesture of attachment and trust that I am yours, both before and now.
Shen Jize slowly bent his head, his lips about to touch the hair, but then he suddenly stopped.
——Did you forget what people told you when you went to him that year?
The voice was like a splash of cool water pouring down from the top of his head, calming his feverish heart and body. While he was in a daze, a series of loud clattering noises rang out from the wall.
Xiao Chu scrambled to pick up the vase he hit and explained to Shen Jize, who was looking over, “My foot was numb and I wanted to change my stance, so I accidentally hit it.”
Shen Jize hugged Lu Rong and didn’t move, didn’t say anything, just stared at Xiao Chu. Xiao Chu was chilled by that gaze and felt that the so-called murderous eyes were just like that. Until Shen Jize narrowed his eyes, and glanced at the door, Xiao Chu reacted, and hurriedly walked towards the door, “I’m going out.”
The door slammed and the room quieted down, Shen Jize looked down at Lu Rong who was still in his arms, wiped the sweat off his forehead with his hand and said, “Rong Rong, go sit on the sofa, I’ll get you a glass of water.”
Lu Rong was soothed by his habitual gesture, licked his lips which were a bit dry and finally let go and went to sit on the sofa.
Shen Jize went to the nearby water fountain to pour water, Lu Rong stared at his back, but then turned away the moment he turned around with the water. He had just rushed up to the person with reckless courage, hugging and kissing him, but only now did he realize that Shen Jize already had broad shoulders and a mature face, and was no longer the little brother he had been so close to back then.
He was a little nervous and shy, and his eyes drifted around, but he didn’t look at the person who came to him.
Shen Jize put the glass of water on the coffee table in front of him, saw him with his knees together and turned his head to look aside, and then picked up the water and walked around the coffee table, sat down beside him, took his hand on his knee and put the glass of water on his palm.
Lu Rong still looked away, only to pass the glass of water to his mouth and gulp it down.
Shen Jize looked at him for a moment and asked softly, “Want another drink?”
“No more.” Lu Rong’s voice was as small as a kitten’s.
Shen Jize stared at him for two seconds and suddenly laughed.
Lu Rong heard the laugh, quickly cleared his throat, increased the volume and repeated, “No more.”
Shen Jize took the empty glass of water from his hand and said, “Are you tired? If you’re tired, go to the next room and lie down for a while, if you’re not tired, follow me home.”
Follow him home?
Lu Rong’s ears perked up and he turned his head and said dryly, “No, I’m not tired, I can go home with you.”
When he saw the smile in Shen Jize’s eyes again, he slowed down his voice to remedy the situation, “I’m really not tired.” And pretended to excuse himself, “I can go back to my own place.”
Shen Jize raised his right hand, as if to touch his head, reached halfway and stopped abruptly, put it down, only to say, “Then rest a little longer, it’s not early. Let’s go outside and eat lunch before going back.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, a child’s voice sounded in the room.
“Who’s looking for me? Who’s looking for me, the cute little baby?”
Shen Jize froze, eyes looking around, but saw Lu Rong get up and scramble out, grabbing the backpack still on the chair and pulling out a cell phone from it.
“Who’s looking for me? Who’s looking for me, this cute—”
“Hey, brother, I’m off today. I’m not in the store… I can’t switch shifts with you… Mn, sorry, please find someone else.” Lu Rong finished talking to his colleague Ah Guang on the phone and turned his head to see Shen Jize looking at him with a smirk on his face, so he mumbled and explained, “It’s my colleague from the store, asking if I can switch shifts.”
Shen Jize nodded, “I know.”
Then he got up and walked towards the bathroom.
Lu Rong didn’t quite understand his odd look and sat down on the couch with some trepidation, listening to the sound of water rushing from the bathroom.
A few moments later, Shen Jize came out with a wet towel and said, “Lie down.”
Although he didn’t know what he was going to do, Lu Rong also obediently lay down, head flat on the sofa, hands on his side, with red and swollen eyes looking at Shen Jize.
Shen Jize walked up to him, leaned down, wrapped his arms around him and lifted him up, put a soft cushion under his head, then folded a towel into a long strip and covered his eyelids.
Lu Rong didn’t move during this process, only blinking as the cold towel was placed. In the darkness, he smelled a light fragrance between Shen Jize’s movements, fresh and long, and couldn’t help but twitch his nose.
“Put this on, your eyes will be much more comfortable.”
Lu Rong gave a muffled sound.
The room was quiet again, and the footsteps of someone passing by could be heard outside the door. After a few moments, Lu Rong didn’t hear Shen Jize’s movement and couldn’t help but call out softly, “Brother.”
“I’m here, rest first.” Shen Jize’s voice rang out from very close by.
Shen Jize sat on the edge of the sofa, staring at the empty glass of water on the coffee table, and felt a hand, gently clutching the hem of his jacket.
Lu Rong breathed a sigh of relief and continued to lie down, only pursing his lips and flashing two light dimples on his cheeks.
He was now lying next to Shen Jize, holding his clothes in his hands, and the air was filled with his good smell, just like his whole body was immersed in warm hot water, full of a comfortable sense of security. He yawned a little, exhaustion came up like a tidal wave, and he unconsciously fell asleep.
When he heard the person on the sofa breathing softly and long, Shen Jize turned around and quietly watched him, tracing the contours of his features with his eyes. He looked at Lu Rong’s fingers that were gripping the hem of his jacket, and went to the cupboard to get a small blanket to put on him.
Lu Rong was sleeping heavily, and a few strands of his forehead hair were hidden in the towel. Shen Jize leaned down and carefully plucked those strands of hair out and tossed them aside. He continued to stare at Lu Rong, mentally comparing his appearance with that of his childhood.
His finger touched the white earlobe very lightly, and then he opened his hand and hung it over his face, thinking that his face was about the size of his palm. Shen Jize’s lips hooked up in a light and gentle smile. When a wet and cool feeling came from his shoulders, and he found a large wet patch there, he got up and took off the jacket.
Under the jacket, he was wearing a black short-sleeved T-shirt, and the liquid had seeped through to his shirt. He stared at the dark color, and suddenly looked a bit dazed. The words from Lu Rong’s mouth he remembered, even more profoundly than Lu Rong.
The jacket in his hand buzzed and vibrated, Shen Jize quickly glanced at Lu Rong, saw that he was still sleeping heavily, hurriedly took out his cell phone and walked to the bathroom, pulling the door shut.
“Ze’er, I found out the movement of the boy in the video. I’ll tell you, he’s your wild brother from the mountains!” Xiao Yong’s excited voice came out of the microphone.
Shen Jize looked at himself in the mirror, slinked his forehead hair to the back of his head and said flatly, “I know.”
Xiao Yong, “…How come you’re not even excited?”
Shen Jize, “He’s here with me now.”
Xiao Yong, “…Then you didn’t tell me, so I had to keep searching for that person.”
Shen Jize thought about it, “I haven’t had a chance to ask him how he’s doing. Did you find out?”
Xiao Yong said, “He arrived in the capital half a month ago, working as a waiter in a cafe, usually staying in the cafe, only going out when he’s on break. According to his whereabouts report, I guess he’s been looking for you all this time.”
Shen Jize hung his head, looked at his right hand on the sink, and said in a hoarse voice, “I know.”
Xiao Yong heard the tone of his voice and asked, “What are you going to do?”
Shen Jize was silent for a moment before not answering the question, only saying in a low voice, “Thank you for this time.”
“Why are you saying it like that and why are you so polite with me?” Xiao Yong also stopped asking questions, said a couple of other things, and then hung up the phone.
Shen Jize pushed open the bathroom door and just came out to see Lu Rong already awake, with messy hair, looking at him with eyes that were still a bit red and swollen, confused. His eyes were dazed at first, then awake and blossoming with intense joy, brighter than the sunlight outside the window.
Shen Jize couldn’t help but smile too, and in his heart gave Xiao Yong the answer to the question he had asked, ‘No matter whatever he thinks of me, I will take care of him until he no longer needs me.’