Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The next morning, Xia Yao fed Xia YangYang a small bowl of porridge before telling his mother, “Mom, just let me bring YangYang for his shots. It is quite hot outside; I think you should stay at home.”
Mother Xia walked out of the kitchen and eyed the adult and kid who were at the tableside, “Are you sure you can handle this yourself? I’m afraid you won’t be able to deal with him when he cries later.”
Xia YangYang stared at his grandmother with his pair of round, wide eyes, “YangYang will be good! YangYang will not cry!”
Mother Xia offered an affectionate smile to him and waved her hands, “Alright then. You can bring him. If his cries are too much to deal with later on, just give me a call. It isn’t that far; I can rush over right away.”
Xia Yao helped Xia YangYang to put on a small sun protection hat. With his hand holding onto his son, he waved goodbye to his mother and left. Shockingly for Xia Yao, the moment he walked down the stairs, he found Zhou Du standing beside the flowerpots at the doorway. Zhou Du’s head was lowered as he was kicking a pebble, boredom evident on his face.
Xia Yao’s heart pounded violently. Before he could even react, Xia YangYang had already thrown himself at the person nearby, calling out in an especially joyous voice, “Dad!” Xia YangYang raised his head while his arms grabbed onto Zhou Du’s leg. His eyes sparkled in excitement.
Xia Yao walked over awkwardly and pulled his son away from Zhou Du. After a cough, he asked, “Why are you here?”
Zhou Du perked up his brows, smiling, “Didn’t you tell me yesterday that you will be bringing YangYang for vaccination?”
The tips of Xia Yao’s ears blushed slightly. Xia YangYang knew he could buy anything he wanted if he fawned on Zhou Du, so he stuck onto the man as though he was a sticky candy. Despite Xia Yao prying him away from Zhou Du just then, he ended up gluing himself onto Zhou Du yet again the second Xia Yao took his eyes off him. Zhou Du bent down to carry him before raising his chin towards Xia Yao, “Let’s go.” Without any choice, Xia Yao walked by his side, leading him to the medical centre in the small district.
Quite a number of children were there for vaccination today. Heart-wrenching wails began to seep into the trio’s ears the moment they stepped into the medical centre. Seemingly fearful, Xia YangYang’s arms started to tighten around Zhou Du’s neck unconsciously. Noticing how frightened Xia YangYang was, Xia Yao suggested to Zhou Du, “Let me carry him.” Zhou Du had no choice but to hand Xia YangYang over to him.
The waves of children’s bawling appeared to have influenced Xia YangYang; his face began scrunching up instantly. Zhou Du fished out his phone from his pocket, asking Xia Yao, “What cartoon does he like to watch?”
Xia Yao flashed an awkward glance at Zhou Du before replying, “Boonie Bears.”
Zhou Du opened his media player app and searched for ‘Boonie Bears’, diverting Xia YangYang’s attention.
By the time Xia Yang Yang’s turn arrived, he had already been completely engrossed in the chase among Briar, Bramble and Logger Vick. Xia Yao lifted Xia YangYang’s tiny arm. Only when the nurse rubbed an alcohol swab onto his skin did Xia YangYang divert his attention back to his arm. All of a sudden, Zhou Du asked Xia YangYang, “Do you want this?” He pointed at Briar and Bramble on the screen. Once again, Xia YangYang shifted his head back to the phone, nodding fervidly.
“Then let’s buy it later, okay?” Zhou Du flung a tempting offer to the kid.
Joy bubbled up in Xia YangYang immediately. He called Zhou Du again, “Dad!”
A smile formed on the nurse’s face, “Mister, although you don’t look old, you sure are remarkable in coaxing kids. Most kids who are here today for vaccinations had their mothers or grandmothers accompanying them. The two of you are quite a peculiar duo; are you brothers?”
Xia Yao’s face paled. However, Zhou Du answered confidently, “No, we are friends.”
Stunned briefly, the nurse gave the two the once over for a moment before turning away to retrieve the syringe silently. Xia Yao’s eyelids drooped down, while Zhou Du snuck a nervous peek at him.
Xia YangYang was lost in the world of cartoons. When the nurse removed the pillow from his arm, he turned over for a look. Realization only dawned on him then. With slight bewilderment on his face, he gazed at his father, who was pressing a cotton swab on his arm. Fear seemed to creep up on him as his beautiful wide eyes started welling up in an instant. “Dad,” aggrieved, he threw himself into Xia Yao’s arms, clinging to his neck without any intention of letting go. Knowing it was too late to say anything else then, Zhou Du could only help Xia Yao carry his items. With Xia Yao carrying Xia YangYang, they decided to head home.
Once Xia Yao was at the doorway, he chanced upon the young mother living beside him. “Teacher Xia,” she greeted.
With Xia YangYang in his arms, Xia Yao gave her a polite nod. Xia YangYang buried his head in his father’s neck, tearing up silently. Xia Yao stroked Xia YangYang’s back gently while asking the woman in front of him, “Did you bring your daughter here for vaccination too?”
“Yeah,” the young mother smiled, “It took quite a while of coaxing at home to get her to come here. What about you? Did you come here alone today?” Her daughter was carried by her maternal grandmother at that moment.
From the corner of his eyes, Xia Yao noticed Zhou Du appeared to be moving away, so he shifted closer to Zhou Du. After a glance at him, he introduced, “I came with my friend.” Thus, Zhou Du took the opportunity and greeted the young mother.
Astonishment flashed across the lady’s eyes, but the corner of her lips began turning up into a smile. “Is that so? We will be going in now. YangYang, be good; don’t cry anymore, okay?” after stroking YangYang’s head, she bid Xia Yao farewell and left.
While strolling home beside Xia Yao, Zhou Du kept his mouth shut. He only started speaking to Xia Yao when they reached Xia Yao’s house, “I won’t be going up with you. Will you be alright carrying him upstairs?”
Casting a shocked look at Zhou Du, Xia Yao asked, “Don’t you want to come in?”
The bitter smile on Zhou Du’s face vanished as swiftly as it appeared, “I’m afraid Godmother won’t… be too keen on welcoming me in.” Zhou Du wasn’t a fool; some things could be figured out if he analysed and pondered over them. He firmly believed Xia Yao didn’t break up with him willingly in the past. Since it wasn’t voluntary, the person who didn’t want them together was evident. Judging from his parents’ reactions about his relationship with Xia Yao, he obviously was able to guess Mother Xia’s views about Xia Yao liking guys.
Xia Yao’s heart writhed in pain, as though being pricked countlessly with a needle. Remorse filled his eyes. He was about to speak when Zhou Du stopped him with a wave of his hand, “It’s alright. You… Are you free to have dinner with me tonight?” Xia Yao fixed his eyes on Zhou Du without moving an inch before giving him a slight nod. Thrilled, Zhou Du beamed with joy, “In that case, I’ll come over to pick you up later.” The euphoria on Zhou Du’s face burnt Xia Yao’s eyes, causing a surge of pain in them.
“Sure,” Xia Yao responded in a hoarse voice.
The two were about to part when Mother Xia popped out from the stairs unexpectedly. She swept her eyes over to Zhou Du, who was standing beside Xia Yao. A hint of panic zipped through Zhou Du’s heart, but a calm expression was still plastered onto his face as he greeted Mother Xia politely. Casting a glance at the both of them, she asked, “Zhou Du, when did you arrive? Why didn’t you drop in?”
Xia Yao was just about to reply, but Zhou Du cut in before him, “I came across Xia Yao as I was passing by. It’s nothing. I came here to meet a client. It’s just a coincidence.”
Despite being fully aware of the truth, Mother Xia didn’t expose his lies. Instead, she invited Zhou Du, “It is quite hot today. Come on up and have a drink.”
A trace of bewilderment showed on Zhou Du’s face. Indeed, he wanted to stay with Xia Yao a bit longer, but… “Come on up,” Xia Yao walked over to him and whispered. Only then did he follow Xia Yao upstairs.