Chapter 23: The Deepest and Most Profound Bottom of the Sea
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Just when Qiao Xi was confused, Han Tian pulled the car over. “Here we are, get out.”
The person who came to greet them today happened to be Yan Linlin, who showed them Tong Tong last time.
This girl was still as lively as ever. Without waiting for Qiao Xi and Han Tian to say anything, she talked about how Zhong Jian had suddenly turned himself in at the police station, and how they had learned that Tong Tong had been abused and had hired a psychiatrist to counsel Tong Tong.
Qiao Xi breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that the last animal who stank and abused young children had been locked up.
“How is Tong Tong doing now?” Han Tian asked.
“Ah, the boy is recovering fast. He even signaled to me the other day, saying that he wanted to see his brother Cake—by the way, when we share the cake later, could you help to give it to him?”
Han Tian and Qiao Xi said it in unison.
After they said that, they looked at each other, Han Tian seemed to have no reaction, but Qiao Xi couldn’t help but giggle a little.
Just like last time, the little beanbags sat in rows, some knocking on bowls, some licking their forks, all craving for more.
This time, Tong Tong was also sitting at the table with the other children, full of anticipation.
Qiao Xi chose the piece of cream cake with the most strawberries, and Han Tian carried it carefully to the table.
After Tong Tong took a big bite of the cake, he looked at Han Tian and said, “Thank you.”
Then, the boy tilted his head, looked at Qiao Xi, and made a long series of gestures.
Qiao Xi, who couldn’t understand sign language, panicked and asked Han Tian secretly, “Uh, what does Tong Tong mean?”
Han Tian translated: “Tong Tong said, ‘Thank you, I really liked the story you told me last time. If you have time later, can you tell it again?'”
Qiao Xi’s jaw dropped and he pointed to himself. “Me? Are you sure Tong Tong wants me to tell him a story?”
“Of course.” Han Tian nodded.
“Okay, fine.” Qiao Xi scratched his head, took Tong Tong’s hand, and led him towards the reading room.
Just a few steps away, he suddenly remembered and looked back at Han Tian. “Ah, but didn’t we agree before that we could do something else together this afternoon, something you wanted to do?”
Han Tian’s smile was warm and inviting. “It’s okay, it’s good to stay here with them.”
Looking at Han Tian, who was so pleasant, Qiao Xi suddenly realized—right, maybe for Han Tian, this kind of reading with children already makes him happy? Tsk, how can there be such a kind, innocent and lovely person, one simply wants to do to him… Huh, wait, simply wants to do what to him? What the hell was I thinking! Slam!
At that moment, Tong Tong gently tugged on the corner of his coat, signaling that he had already chosen a book.
Qiao Xi took it and looked at it. Oh, it was the same book as last time, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales.
Last time Qiao Xi told him the story of the “Little Tin Soldier” with only one leg, this time, Qiao Xi casually turned to the “Daughter of the Sea”.
“Once upon a time, in the deepest and deepest part of the sea…”
Qiao Xi sat down on the carpet, Tong Tong hesitated, dragged a small bench over, carefully leaned next to him, holding the still yellow and black, still unpleasant little face, listened intently.
Han Tian was leaning at the door, with a smile, quietly watching these two.
Qiao Xi spoke extremely slowly. By the time he finished reading the last word, almost an hour had passed.
Tong Tong, who had finished listening to the story, took the book from Qiao Xi’s hand and turned it over quietly by himself, looking at it carefully, page by page.
Qiao Xi did not stand up immediately, but sat on the carpet with his knees in his arms, dazed.
“What’s wrong?” At some point, Han Tian had sat beside him and touched his head.
“Nothing.” Qiao Xi lowered his head/ “I just can’t understand the story.”
“Hmm?” Han Tian was a little puzzled.
“You see, the mermaid gave up her tail and her voice to save the prince, but the prince still wanted to marry someone else. The mermaid had a clear chance to kill the prince in the end and take the prince’s soul for herself so she could live, why didn’t she do it?” Qiao Xi was a little indignant.
The feelings here, which he could not understand at all, only felt absurd and unbelievable.
“Mermaids are indeed very stupid,” Han Tian affirmed. “However, for her, that is true love. She just listened to her inner voice and chose love instead of life.”
Qiao Xi turned his head slightly sideways and looked at Han Tian’s face, which was extremely close to his own. “True love? Is it true love even if there is no response? The prince never knew what the mermaid did for him from the beginning to the end, can it also be true love?”
Han Tian laughed. “Sometimes, love doesn’t have to have a response.”
Qiao Xi averted his eyes and muttered softly, “Okay. You strange humans…”
Luckily, we demons don’t have this strange obsession, Qiao Xi thought secretly.
Looking at Qiao Xi, who was still pondering, Han Tian gently poked him in the face and stood up. “Okay, let’s go.”
Tong Tong, who was flipping through his book, looked at both of them standing up, hurriedly put down his book and started gesturing at Qiao Xi: “Thank you, Brother Cake, see you next week.”
When Han Tian finished translating, Qiao Xi was a little surprised. “Huh? So Brother Cake doesn’t mean you, but me?”
Tong Tong gestured again: “No, no, you are all, you are all very good cake brothers.”
Han Tian stroked Tong Tong’s head with a smile, while Qiao Xi was even more surprised. He stumbled a little, a little incoherent. “How, how could… You are so pure, I, how could I—”
Han Tian gently held his wrist and took a few steps outside the house. “Don’t think about it, just go.”
Qiao Xi found that the strange problem of involuntarily trembling when Han Tian held his hand or touched other parts of his body had not improved at all.
But even so, he let Han Tian take him out of the door before pulling his hand back. “Have you thought about where we’re going?”
“You just read about the underwater world with a wistful face, do you want to go see it now?” Han Tian asked with a smile.
“Underwater World? Uh… I’m just a little curious…” Qiao Xi looked at the little beanbags running around outside and whispered, “I’ve also seen the underwater world on the internet…”
“Let’s go to the oceanarium,” Han Tian concluded directly.
“Huh? Wait, didn’t you say go where you want to go?” Qiao Xi asked after him.
Han Tian walked out while gesturing for Qiao Xi to follow him. “Yeah, I heard you talk so well just now that I suddenly wanted to go there.”
Seeing Qiao Xi still frozen in place, Han Tian smiled and said, “Really, it’s me who wants to go. Let’s go.”
No, he’s lying—he’s proposing this because he thinks I want to go, Qiao Xi thought. So, my pure prey has told a little lie for me?
Qiao Xi, who realized this, had another pang of panic and some shortness of breath—as well as a rumbling in his stomach.
What’s wrong? I’m hungry again?
Qiao Xi peeked at Han Tian, hoping that he hadn’t noticed the embarrassing sound.
Unexpectedly, Han Tian opened the trunk, took a lunch box out of another insulated box, and handed it to Qiao Xi. “Egg sandwich, lemon tea, and chopped kiwi fruit. Eat it first.”
Qiao Xi held the lunch box, eyes wide. “Huh? How did you prepare this in advance?”
Han Tian opened the car door and laughed. “The orphanage is too far from home, we can’t let you starve on the road again?”
“I’m… I’m actually not that hungry…” Qiao Xi retorted weakly, but his hand had already opened the bento box and fished out the fragrant sandwich.
Only after Qiao Xi had eaten the simple dinner in the passenger seat, and not even a single piece of fruit was left, did Han Tian start the car.
At that moment, Qiao Xi remembered something very important. “By the way, it’s almost 5 p.m., can we still visit the oceanarium when we drive there?”
Gee, why don’t I secretly pack the whole oceanarium now? And make them wait for Han Tian and me?
Qiao Xi was planning it when he heard Han Tian say, “There’s a separate night show at the oceanarium, we can go there now, just in time.”
“A night show?”
“Yes, it’s going to be beautiful, you’ll know when you go.” Han Tian looked at Qiao Xi with a smile, stopped talking, and stepped on the gas.
By the time the two arrived at the oceanarium, the sun had already gone down.
While the tourists were heading out, Han Tian took Qiao Xi through a small door to the inside.
“Wait—you’ve bought tickets?” Qiao Xi took out his mobile phone, ready to pay in front of Han Tian.
“I made a reservation, I don’t need to buy a ticket,” Han Tian replied calmly.
“Is that so?” Qiao Xi vaguely felt that something was not quite right. But soon, he forgot about it, but was completely shocked by the view in front of him.
The oceanarium was blue, very empty, and quiet.
Qiao Xi saw at a glance, the huge tank several meters high, in which a variety of fish were swimming.
The brightly colored angelfish, the octopus lying on the glass wall and moving fast, the lion fish with magnificent wings…
These beautiful fish, which Qiao Xi had only seen on the screen, were waving around in front of him leisurely.
“Oh great demon… This is too beautiful…” Qiao Xi stared at the dreamlike jellyfish rising and falling in the cylindrical tank, and whispered in admiration.
Han Tian, on the other hand, just stood quietly beside Qiao Xi, watching him exclaiming and dancing at one moment.
The two of them, or rather Qiao Xi, ran excitedly for half of the venue before finally arriving at the most famous part of the oceanarium: the 200-meter-long “underwater tunnel”.
Qiao Xi tilted his head, watching a ray fly gracefully over his head, and beside him, a few naive manatees, strolling peacefully. Farther away—what is that? White, with a round head and a cute beak turned upward, as if it were smiling constantly.
“That’s a baby beluga,” Han Tian explained softly.
“It’s so pretty…” Qiao Xi’s face was a bit obsessed, and his hand was unconsciously pressed to the glass wall, gently patting it twice, as if he was calling for the little white whales.
To Qiao Xi’s surprise and delight, the little white whales, as if they understood his call, all swam towards him and then kept circling and spitting in the water in front of him.
“Are they playing with me?” Qiao Xi asked excitedly.
“Yes. Come on, you do this…” Han Tian responded from behind him, while extending his hand and gently covering the back of Qiao Xi’s hand.
“Move your hand forward along the glass wall like this, they will follow your hand and make all kinds of different movements…” Han Tian’s voice was right next to Qiao Xi’s ear. Han Tian’s warm breath, with that incredibly sweet fragrance, lingered insistently and lingeringly around him, slowly invading from the end of his nose, then dominantly coiled in his chest and refused to retreat.
For a moment, Qiao Xi felt like he couldn’t stand up.
His face, from the moment Han Tian touched him, grew red. His heart was beating so fiercely that a drum-like thud filled his ears.
His throat was dry, his legs were weak, and he wanted to look back at Han Tian’s face, but inexplicably didn’t quite dare.
“How’s that? How does it feel…?” Han Tian’s fingers pressed down with slight force, nestling with Qiao Xi’s ten fingers.
“… Quite… Quite interesting…” Qiao Xi stumbled over his answer, forcing himself to focus on the innocent and cute little white whales in front of him. Huh? Wait, these innocent and cute little white whales, why did they start playing with kisses?