Translated by Ying of Exiled Rebels Scanslations
Zhou Du suddenly calmed down, ending the call before it could be picked up.
He lay back down onto his bed, hands behind his head.
He had never understood Xia Yao’s reasons for leaving, even if the other had said it was because of money. Although Zhou Du in his heart of hearts knew this to be false, the topic had triggered something in him and he had chosen to stay in B City, working as hard as he could in order to earn money. Only now did he truly understand that maybe the Xia Yao from back then didn’t break up merely because of the house.
Zhou Du changed his position to lie on his side, staring out the window at the moon. Perhaps, the main reason for their breakup were Mother Xia’s burns.
After Mother Xia had sent Xia Yangyang to sleep, she knocked on the door leading to her son’s bedroom.
Xia Yao had been working on his computer. Once his ears caught her tapping, he took off his glasses and opened the door.
“Are you working?” Mother Xia asked after taking note of his open computer.
Xia Yao shook his head, walking out. “What is it?” he asked, bemused.
Mother Xia breathed out a heavy sigh and walked to the sofa, Xia Yao following her lead.
“Sit down; mom wants to walk to you about something.”
Xia Yao guessed that his mother was trying to recommend another candidate for marriage and frowned slightly before taking a seat next to his mother.
Mother Xia watched her son’s profile, asking, “Yaoyao, do you blame mom?”
Xia Yao remained silent for a while; knowing full well what his mother was referring to, he pursed his lips and shook his head.
Mother Xia lifted a hand and wiped away at the corners of her eyes. This movement was not lost to Xia Yao, he quickly shuffled closer, patting her hand, saying, “Mom, I really don’t blame you.”
After hearing Xia Yao say that, the rims of her eyes immediately started to redden.
“I was ill-fated in marriage in my lifetime and all I ever wanted was for you to have a happy, fulfilling family.” Once again, a hand was lifted to dab away at the corners of her eyes. “But how can two men create a family? You can’t get married and what if you are being tricked, mom has been tricked herself, so…”
“Mom.” The light of the sitting room shone down on Xia Yao’s crown, he lowered his eyes, his expression rendered indecipherable. “You don’t have to tell me these things, I already know.”
Mother Xia flipped her hand to hold onto her son’s tightly, “Yaoyao, mom has thought things through. Uncle Feng was right, it is impossible for any human’s lifetime to all be smooth sailing, no one can tell what the future will bring. I shouldn’t have tried to interfere too much with your life. I shouldn’t have used my position as your mother to force you. Back then, I was wrong, can you forgive me?”
“Mom,” Xia Yao opened his mouth with great difficulty, speaking slowly, “these are all things of the past, can we not talk about it?”
Mother Xia was quiet for a while before asking, “Then, do you still want to be together with Zhou Du?”
As Xia Yao heard that, his eyes stung and his throat seemed to constrict his voice, but he took a breath and replied. “Mom, some things are impossible to change just because I want them to.”
Mother Xia took in her son’s pale complexion and bony shoulders, suddenly feeling a stab of pain in her heart.
“Mom will never again interfere with your life; if you want to marry, you can marry. If you don’t want to marry… Mom will not force you. If you still like Zhou Du, you should find him.” Once she finished, she let go of Xia Yao’s hand and stood, slowly making her way back to her own room.
Xia Yao maintained his posture for a long time before he sat himself up straight and leaned back into the soft backing of the sofa.
He lifted an arm and covered his eyes with it, suddenly feeling so very forlorn.
The next morning, Zhou Tong seemed to be in quite a good mood as she watered the plant on her desk. Suddenly, her phone started ringing, so she hurriedly placed the watering can down and picked up.
“Present, superior Zhou. What do you need?”
“Book a restaurant for me tonight.”
Zhou Tong accepted the task but the person on the other end of the line added, “The atmosphere has to be on the good side, understand?”
Zhou Tong lifted the corners of her mouth, quickly replying, “I understand boss, rest assured; I will do as you say.”
After Zhou Du ended the call, he stared at his phone for a while. Then he opened his WeChat and posted the photo taken at the aquarium in his friend stream and added a tag –
A happy day.
Then he turned his phone off and opened one of the files on his desk.
Xia Yao had received a call from his mentor on Monday morning so he went to the school.
At noon, his teacher kept him back to eat a meal with him and it wasn’t until after three o’clock in the afternoon that he took a towering stack of materials back home.
His phone rang again, not long after his return.
His screen showed Zhou Tong’s name; Xia Yao thought that his latest translations had issues so he took the call immediately.
“Is this teacher Xia?” Zhou Tong’s clear voice said from the other side.
Xia Yao gave an ‘yes’ but didn’t even get a chance to ask the purpose of the call when Zhou Tong continued, “Are you free tonight?”
Xia Yao found this to be strange so he hesitated before asking, “What is this about?”
Secretary Zhou gave a short laugh before hurriedly explaining herself, “Please don’t misunderstand, Mr. Xia. It’s like this: the balance for your last translation has not yet been settled. We have already checked the files, and there are no problems, so if it is possible, we would like you to sign some documents for us tonight.”
“I have time now, how about we sign them right away?”
Zhou Tong paused momentarily before replying, “I’m sorry, but I’m not at the company at the moment and two days from now I will be going away on a business trip. Would it be alright if I took up some of your time tonight?”
Xia Yao quickly weighed up his options before giving a nod and saying, “Alright then, where will we be meeting tonight?”
Zhou Tong gave the name of the restaurant before hanging up. After she ended the call, she hurriedly sent Zhou Du a message on her computer.
‘Boss, he’s been invited.”
Zhou Du had been aimlessly flipping through someone or other’s biography, but when he saw a notification with Zhou Tong’s profile picture, he opened it right away.
After seeing her message, he couldn’t help smiling.
‘Well done. Keep up the good work and next month I’ll give you a raise.’
‘Thank you, boss!’ Zhou Tong typed with a smile across her face.
Once Zhou Du got home, he took a shower before taking aeons picking his outfit, eventually settling for a grey shirt. When he opened his tie compartment, he found himself staring at the tie Xia Yao had once given him. He seemed to blank out for a moment before reaching out and picking out that one.
Once he was ready and about to leave, his goof of a dog lay on the side of its nest, looking at Zhou Du with sparkling eyes.
Zhou Du walked over and gave its golden head a pat before placing a bowl of dog food in front of the dog. “How about I take your mom back to cuddle you tonight?”
The golden retriever reached out with a paw for Zhou Du’s leg, wanting to climb up the man’s body. Zhou Du pushed it away and stood up, adjusting his tie.
“Silly dog.” He gave the dog a glance before picking up his keys and walking out the floor.
The dog hurriedly followed him but was rewarded with the door being closed on its face ruthlessly. It pawed at the door for a while, letting out a few pitiful whines before returning to its nest.
Zhou Du’s entire being was beaming with excitement as he drove towards their meeting place. He noticed the corners of his mouth lifting up in the rear-view mirror and quickly cleared his throat, forcing them back down.
Zhou Du arrived at the restaurant and greeted the waiter before making his way up to the room upstairs.
The moment Xia Yao walked through the door, someone walked in front of him, speaking politely, “Excuse me, sir. Would you be Mr. Xia Yao?”
Xia Yao gave a nod.
The other gave a bow as a gesture for Xia Yao to enter and led the customer upstairs.
When Xia Yao entered the private room, he suddenly realized that the man sitting inside was Zhou Du. Immediately startled, he couldn’t help curling his fingers into fists as he walked in.
Zhou Du eyed the other man, dousing the flames kindling in his heart as he said, “Take a seat.”
Xia Yao hesitated. Seeing that, Zhou Du cleared his throat twice, “Zhou Tong said that her boyfriend wanted her to meet his parents tonight so I let her out early.”
Xia Yao nodded cautiously, keeping his eyes down, not daring to look at Zhou Du’s face. Zhou Du stood up, walking to his side and bending over to pour him a cup of tea.
Xia Yao noticed Zhou Du’s sudden close proximity to himself and suddenly shot up into a standing position. He ended up crashing into Zhou Du and just like that, a whole pot of tea was splashed all over Zhou Du.
Xia Yao hurriedly began to apologize, “I’m so sorry. I–I didn’t mean to.” He picked up the tissues on the table and frantically began to mop up the mess on Zhou Du’s front.
Zhou Du didn’t move a muscle. He was half a head taller than Xia Yao and being so close to the other man caused him to hold his breath unconsciously, his eyes staring relentlessly at the man less than half a foot away from him.
Xia Yao wiped at Zhou Du with the tissue a few more times before realizing that the tie the other man was wearing appeared familiar. His fingers suddenly froze.
Zhou Du grabbed Xia Yao’s wrist, his deep voice suddenly sounding next to the shorter man’s ear, “Do you still remember this tie?”
Xia Yao let Zhou Du grab his wrist and remained still.
The two stood there, neither making any noise, Zhou Du pulled at Xia Yao’s wrist so that his hand pressed onto the tie.
“Once, you said that you liked the way I looked in ties,” the eyes fixed on Xia Yao didn’t move, speaking carefully, “do you still like it?”
Xia Yao seemed to awaken from his trance at the question and didn’t waste another moment in tearing his hand away from Zhou Du’s grip. This sentence played with his heartstrings, but he couldn’t bring himself to answer Zhou Du’s question.
Zhou Du didn’t seem to be angry and only returned to his seat.
“I heard from your mother that Xia YangYang isn’t your own?” Zhou Du said, changing the topic.
Xia Yao paused before nodding.
“Then… Have you ever considered finding him a new mother?” When Zhou Du posed the question, he couldn’t help but grip his tea cup harder.
Xia Yao raised his head with great difficulty and said to Zhou Du, “YangYang has his own mother.”
Zhou Du gave a hum and smiled slightly. “That’s right. Look at me, forgetting all about it.”
At that instant the waiter knocked on the door and brought their dinner to the table.
“Apparently the children’s menu here is quite good, next time we should take YangYang with us for him to try it,” Zhou Du spoke while arranging Xia Yao’s dishes for him.
Xia Yao lifted his head and gave him a glance before giving him a small ‘mhm’.
Seeing that he had agreed, Zhou Du’s heart couldn’t help filling with joy. He took out a wine glass and poured them each a cup.
Xia Yao watched the wine glass in front of him and couldn’t help frowning as he spoke, “I thought you had problems with your stomach, why would you drink?”
Zhou Du froze up for a second before smiling amusedly and taking his glass away. “That’s right, I shouldn’t be touching any alcohol.” He sighed intentionally, saying, “It’s just out of habit. Most of the time, once I sit down on a drinking table, it’s not up to me on whether or not I drink.”
The eyes that Xia Yao looked at him with showed his concern for Zhou Du.
Zhou Du couldn’t help a little celebratory dance breaking out in his head.
Xia Yao didn’t pick up his chopsticks and start to eat, instead asked, “Secretary Zhou said that today I would be signing some papers.”
Zhou Du suddenly changed his expression to one of understanding, and he nodded before saying, “That is correct, but I haven’t eaten yet tonight…”
“Then, let’s eat first.” Xia Yao knew that people with stomach problems had to adhere to stricter routines concerning the three meals a day rule so he picked up his chopsticks and started eating quietly with his head lowered.
The table was silent and when they finished eating, Zhou Du pretended to reach for his briefcase by his side and made an exasperated expression once he opened it and looked inside.
Xia Yao stared at Zhou Du with eyes wide open.
Zhou Du spoke with an apologetic tone. “Look at me, I even managed to forget the documents.”
Xia Yao frowned and pinched his lips together.
“How about this, my place isn’t too far from here, why don’t you come over and sign the papers there?”
Xia Yao continued to remain quiet and didn’t nod.
Zhou Du purposefully pulled a kicked puppy expression and said, “Fine… I know you don’t want to, I didn’t mean to force this on you. Then how about some other time…”
“That’s not it,” Xia Yao, thinking that Zhou Du had misunderstood, hurriedly spoke. “I, I was afraid that it would inconvenience you.”
“It’s not as though I’m hiding anyone in my house, so it wouldn’t inconvenience me.” Zhou Du picked up his keys and wallet by his side, saying to Xia Yao, “Let’s go.”
Xia Yao clenched his fingers and followed the other man downstairs.
Zhou Du opened his door and didn’t even have time to turn the lights on when a golden retriever suddenly leapt towards him. Xia Yao got so scared that he couldn’t help letting out a yelp of surprise.
Zhou Du rushed to take his hand and reassured him, “Don’t worry, it’s just my pet dog.” Once he had turned on the lights in the sitting room, Xia Yao saw for himself that it was, indeed, just a dog.
His face went red immediately. Zhou Du led him inside, still holding Xia Yao’s hand. Xia Yao gave his hand a tug, but was not successful in removing his hand from the other’s.
Only after they were properly inside the house did Zhou Du let go.
The golden fur-ball tilted its head as it looked Xia Yao up and down; Xia Yao found it adorable and couldn’t help staring at it for a while.
“Do you want to pat it?” Zhou Du ruffled the dog’s head. “He’s well-trained.”
Xia Yao seemed to be unable to decide on whether to accept the offer or not so Zhou Du laughed softly before grabbing his hand and pressing it onto the golden retriever’s head.
Xia Yao smiled at the dog before turning his head towards Zhou Du and saying, “As you said, he’s really a good boy.”
This was the first time since their breakup that Zhou Du had been able to see Xia Yao make an expression like this, he froze up before also breaking out into a smile, replying, “Hmm, do you like it?”
Xia Yao didn’t detect the other man’s sudden difference in tone and just nodded.
Zhou Du thought to himself, That’s good. He watched the dog lay down onto the floor, relishing in Xia Yao’s pats and went to his room.
After Zhou Du had left, Xia Yao took his hand off the golden fur and found himself standing in the middle of the sitting room, at a loss of what he should be doing.
Zhou Du’s house could be considered huge; he looked around quietly, discovering floor to ceiling windows at the balcony, presenting a view of the riverside.
Xia Yao stood, amazed by the view; Zhou Du walked to his side, pretending to unintentionally half-wrap an arm around the other’s waist, saying, “The view on this side is really nice.” He applied some strength to his arm and steered Xia Yao to the front of the floor to ceiling windows.
A wicker chair and a beanbag sofa sat there.
Zhou Du took a seat in the wicker chair and gestured for Xia Yao to take a seat as well. Xia Yao shook his head, saying, “I would like to get the document signed.”
Zhou Du lowered the corners of his eyebrows, turning his head around saying in a tone lowered in temperature, “Do you really hate being with me so much?”
Xia Yao looked at Zhou Du’s silhouette and couldn’t help but feel a pang in his heart. He sat down on the sofa silently and carefully began, “That day, you said that you didn’t want to see me, I–I was just afraid that you…”
He couldn’t finish saying his sentence; Zhou Du turned his head and fiercely fixed his eyes on Xia Yao, saying to him, “Can’t I say one or two things out of anger? Or do you just hold grudges this easily?”
“That’s not it, I—” Xia Yao was so frantic that words failed him.
Zhou Du smiled to himself slightly and purposefully turned his head to the side, acting as though he was ignoring Xia Yao.
Xia Yao dug his fingernails into his palm, uncomfortably watching the back of Zhou Du’s head. He found his heart softening as he called quietly, “Zhou Du.”
Only then did Zhou Du turn around, the neon lights from outside the window lighting up his face. At that sight, Xia Yao froze, not knowing what he wanted to or was going to say next.
Zhou Du returned the stare with equal dedication. Neither of them moved; the pair stared at each other silently like this for a while before Zhou Du opened his mouth again, “About the events relating to your mother, why didn’t you tell me back then?”
Xia Yao’s eyes suddenly went wide as he pinched his lips and clenched his fingers.
Zhou Du continued, “Your house—it was given to you by your father, wasn’t it.”
Xia Yao could feel his throat tightening uncomfortably, he lowered his head and didn’t say a thing. Zhou Du suddenly stood up and walked over to Xia Yao, half bent over in front of him, asking, “So, what you said to me at our breakup, were those all just lies to trick me?”
Zhou Du reached out a hand and laid on top of Xia Yao’s, using his finger to slowly start stroking it softly.
“You still love me, don’t you?” His eyes were careful.
“That,” Xia Yao said with great difficulty, “That’s not important anymore.” He gathered up his resolve and met Zhou Du’s eyes, proclaiming slowly and clearly, “I am not fit to love you.”
As soon as he finished his sentence, Zhou Du suddenly shot up, a hand reaching out to press against Xia Yao’s shoulder before leaning forwards and kissing the man.
Xia Yao struggled, but Zhou Du just bent a leg and forced it between Xia Yao’s knees, forcing him down so that his back was pressed against the sofa.
Xia Yao’s protests were muffled by the other’s mouth. Zhou Du sneaked his tongue out, preparing to invade the other’s mouth, but then he felt a hot tear fall onto the back of his hand.
He hurriedly let go of Xia Yao to find the man in front of him crying.
Xia Yao ashamedly lifted a hand to rub at his eyes, showing signs of wanting to leave.
Zhou Du clenched his fists tightly, he tried his best to suppress his fury as he asked, “Do you hate me to this extent?”
Xia Yao shook his head frantically.
Zhou Du held the other man’s chin, lifting Xia Yao’s head so that he was forced to look at his face. “I love you,” he said to the other. “All these years, I have never found another person. I love you, Xia Yao. Can’t you just give me a chance?”
Xia Yao’s eyes were rimmed with redness as he opened his mouth and replied to Zhou Du in a raspy voice, “Zhou Du, I’m scared.”
Zhou Du pressed his forehead against Xia Yao’s, asking softly, “What do you have to be afraid of?”
“I’m too weak,” Xia Yao’s mouth opened and closed, “I’m not fit to love you, I don’t deserve your love, I’m afraid I’ll hurt you again, I…”
Zhou Du gave the other man’s lips a soft peck and Xia Yao froze up, the rest of his speech lost.
So, Zhou Du gave another peck. “Do you love me?” He only cared about the answer to this question.
Xia Yao was silent for a long time before he replied with a hesitant, slow nod.
Zhou Du let out a long sigh, his eyes carrying no small amount of happiness as he said, “That’s the only answer I’ve ever needed.”
He slid his eyes shut and started to kiss Xia Yao again.
It was impossible to tell who started to deepen their kiss, but as Zhou Du’s hand glided up Xia Yao’s waistline to start unbuttoning the his shirt, Xia Yao’s finger was suddenly licked by something.
Xia Yao was so surprised that he gave a loud yelp; the two turned their heads to find the culprit waging a golden tail, tilting its head and watching the two closely pressed together bodies innocently.
Only then did Xia Yao realize that his clothes were unkempt and quickly straightened up, the rosy blush on his cheeks also subsiding.
Zhou Du looked at his silly dog irritably, pointing at him and giving an order, “Go back to your nest.”
The golden retriever didn’t seem to understand Zhou Du and happily began to pull Zhou Du backwards by the end of his pant leg. Zhou Du began to feel his irritation condensing and grabbed the dog’s collar, prepared to drag the pet away.
Xia Yao stood up and blocked Zhou Du, saying with a raspy voice, “It’s getting late, I—I should go.”
Zhou Du wasn’t about to let his prize go so easily; he let the dog munch on his pants and placed his hands on Xia Yao’s shoulders, saying, “You still haven’t signed the documents yet.”
Xia Yao blushed. “I’ll sign next time.”
Although saying that he would sign off next time meant that the pair would be meeting again, the mood right then was just right. On top of that, Zhou Du thought that if he didn’t do something—anything—he wouldn’t be able to face his family jewels which had been kept locked away in a safe for so many years.
Not giving an ounce of attention to his dog, he pushed his tone down on purpose and said in a husky voice tinted with arousal, “Yaoyao.” He lowered his head so that his mouth was directly in front of the other man’s ear and blew onto it. “We haven’t seen each other for so many years, don’t you miss me?”
Xia Yao’ ears were sensitive, and adding on the fact that Zhou Du had said it with the intention of teasing made the tips of his ears glow scarlet.
The golden retriever, seeing Zhou Du was ignoring it on purpose, treaded in circles around its owner’s feet, even trying to get between the pair.
Zhou Du face froze up and he gave a fleeting kiss to the side of Xia Yao’s face, saying to him, “Stay like this, give me ten seconds.”
And before waiting for Xia Yao to react, he picked his pet up and took it to the balcony.
“Be good.” Zhou Du stuffed the dog into its nest, saying to it, “I’ll take you to see girls tomorrow.”
The golden retriever put its paws on Zhou Du’s neck, seeming to want to play; Zhou Du’s eyebrows shot up, and he decided to take his pet to the guest room instead, confining it in the room.
Xia Yao had already readjusted his clothes and moved from the balcony to the living room at this point.
Zhou Du walked out from the guest room to find the other man seeming to be preparing to leave.
“My mom just called me,” Xia Yao looked at Zhou Du sheepishly. “YangYang is looking for me, so…”
Zhou Du could feel an overwhelming desire to throw a certain dog out the sixth floor window as he looked at Xia Yao longingly, his puppy-like expression looking almost pitiful.
Xia Yao’s heart melted at the sight and with cheeks set ablaze, he said, “N-Next time, we can continue…” His face was bright red and he couldn’t finish the rest of his statement.
Zhou Du understood his meaning in a second, lifting the corners of his mouth to smile. “Remember that you were the one who said it.” He hugged Xia Yao around the waist and gave his temple a kiss, “What about this weekend?”
Xia Yao’s heart was playing the drums as he lowered his head and gave an ‘okay’.
Zhou Du suddenly felt like a dog given a bone; his eyes sparkled.