Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When Yu Chu woke up, the surrounding area was quiet, and there was a slanting light coming in through the window, with a bit of orange hue. It made him unable to distinguish whether it was the morning sun, or maybe it was already in the evening.
He sat up and realized that he felt a little weak, and his stomach felt like it had been hungry for days. The clothes he was wearing were the same as before he went to bed last night, and they were wrinkled. The sound of TV was faintly heard outside the door, so he guessed it was Li SiMing watching a drama, so he slipped on the disposable slippers by the bed and got up to pull open the bedroom door.
When he walked into the small living room, the person sitting on the couch looked up, but it wasn’t Li SiMing, but Xie XingMu. Xie XingMu looked at Yu Chu and asked, “You’re awake?”
“Yes.” Yu Chu paused for just a second before turning around and going into the bathroom.
He turned on the tap and brushed his teeth, looking at his messy hair in the mirror as he brushed, wondering why Xie XingMu was here.
The bathroom door was knocked on and Xie XingMu asked at the door, “Do you want to have your breakfast first or a shower? I’ve prepared clean clothes for you.”
Yu Chu was hungry, but his body felt so grimy that he couldn’t stand it, so he replied evasively, “I’ll take a shower.”
Xie XingMu didn’t probe again, just directly opened the door, scanned around, saw no suitable place, then set the folded clean clothes on the towel rack. The hotel’s bathroom wasn’t large, and Xie XingMu was tall. Once he came in, the space became more cramped. Yu Chu was squeezed against the top of the sink, so he held his toothbrush, using a water cup to hold water, ready to rinse the toothpaste foam out.
Xie XingMu didn’t go out even after putting Yu Chu’s clothes down, and he turned around to face the mirror. Yu Chu saw that he was standing still behind him and looked at him from the mirror in confusion.
Xie XingMu coughed lightly and said, “You have only been brushing for about a minute, keep brushing. All sides of the teeth should be brushed, for at least three minutes or so.”
Yu Chu was suddenly annoyed and said, “What’s it to you? Get out.”
Xie XingMu looked at his glaring eyes and pushed open the door, but continued, “Remember to brush for three minutes.” And pointed to the mirror in front of him, “Toothpaste foam splashed on it, wipe it off after rinsing.”
Yu Chu kicked the door shut.
He finished brushing his teeth, turned on the shower head and took a shower. Then looked at the clothes Xie XingMu had sent him to change into. It was a brand new set of sportswear, white sweatshirt and black pants. Xie XingMu was thoughtful enough to remove the tags.
Out of the bathroom, he saw that there were a few lunch boxes on the living room coffee table, a bowl of green vegetables porridge and a few sold exquisite meals.
Xie XingMu was standing in front of the window smoking, looked over after hearing movement, watched him for two seconds, turned his head and snuffed out the cigarette in the ashtray, said, “Feel free to eat something to fill your stomach.”
Yu Chu’s hungry stomach felt like it was grumbling up to his chest, so he nonchalantly sat at the table, picked up the bowl and used his chopsticks to eat. He asked, “What time is it?”
“Afternoon.” Xie XingMu said.
Yu Chu ate his meal in silence, eating somewhat wolfishly. Xie XingMu sat down opposite him and picked up his chopsticks and poked the skin of the soup dumpling to let the heat inside dissipate, “Slowly, it’s not like I’m going to fight with you.”
Yu Chu buried his head and ate half of his bowl before slowing down and asking Xie XingMu, “Aren’t you going to eat?”
Xie XingMu started to pick the bones of a steamed carp and said, “I just ate at the congee store after I woke up, and I brought some for you.”
Yu Chu then noticed that he had changed his clothes, black short-sleeved T-shirt and pants, looking very refreshed, not like he hadn’t rested.
“What are you doing here with me? Letting me continue being bait?” He asked, nibbling the head of his chopsticks.
Xie XingMu looked up at him, his gaze deep and dark, then lowered his head to pick at the fish and said, “You’re not a bait, you’re an ancestor.”1
Seeing Yu Chu stop eating in a daze, he curled his fingers and knocked on the table, “Eat up, the carp will become mushy when it gets cold.”
When Yu Chu finished eating, Xie XingMu got up to clean up the table, put the empty paper bowls and leftovers into plastic bags, and said, “Go to the bedroom and check what you didn’t take with you, we’re going to check out.”
“I’ve got everything I had.” Yu Chu said.
The two walked out of the hotel door, Xie XingMu pressed the key and the SUV parked not far away flashed its lights. Yu Chu looked towards the public security bureau not far away and asked, “Don’t I have to make a statement or something?”
Xie XingMu said, “No need, let’s go. Get in.”
Yu Chu thought he wanted to send him back to his rented house, so he got into the passenger side, and waited until G merged into the traffic, only to find that it was going in the opposite direction from his place. Xie XingMu explained, “You know I have a nephew, right? Now he’s at kindergarten. It’s getting late, so let’s go pick him up.”
Yu Chu didn’t object, and ten minutes later, Xie XingMu pulled up to the side of the road and said to him as he unbuckled his seat belt, “Wait, I’ll go pick up DuoDuo.”
Across the street was a kindergarten, it was now the end of the school day. Many parents were picking up their kids and the children were making a lot of noise. Yu Chu usually didn’t like children, so he pressed the window button to shut out those noises only to watch Xie XingMu’s tall figure going into the kindergarten door.
The waiting time was a bit boring, and he stared at an ice cream store on the side of the road, watching those who bought ice cream for the noisy children. As he watched, a familiar figure suddenly appeared in his field of vision; Xie XingMu was behind the queue at some point, with a five-year-old boy in his left arm.
The little boy was wearing a T-shirt with a little yellow duck on his chest and carrying a blue school bag, and was saying something to Xie XingMu, gesturing with his hands with excitement. He couldn’t see Xie XingMu’s face, but could only see him nodding his head, very seriously.
Xie XingMu quickly went to the counter and came out with two more ice creams in his right hand. Yu Chu saw him coming towards the car and hurriedly averted his eyes. The backseat door was pulled open and the child was shoved in, gibbering, “When he farted, I didn’t laugh at him. The kids were laughing, but I didn’t.”
“Mn, DuoDuo did the right thing.” Xie XingMu leaned down to fasten his seat belt and handed him one of the ice creams, “Your favorite, strawberry flavor.”
After DuoDuo took the ice cream, he pulled open the driver’s door and sat in, handing the other ice cream to Yu Chu. Yu Chu rarely ate such sweets, but Xie XingMu didn’t say a word, and he unconsciously took it. Xie XingMu looked at him and said, “Mango flavor, you should like it.”
Yu Chu pondered how he knew he liked mangoes, and suddenly remembered that when he was on the Island, he would eat the mangoes from the fruit plate, which should have been seen by Xie XingMu. His heartbeat suddenly slowed down by half a beat, and he hastily took a bite of ice cream to avoid Xie XingMu’s eyes.
“Who is he?” From the back seat came the question from the little ducky boy.
Xie XingMu then remembered and introduced the two separately, “DuoDuo, this is Uncle Yu. Xiao Chu2, this is my nephew, Chi DuoDuo.”
He called him Xiao Chu very naturally, as if he had already called it countless times, which made Yu Chu’s newly stable heart skip a beat again.
“Xiao Chu?” Chi DuoDuo asked from behind.
Xie XingMu corrected, “You can’t call him Xiao Chu, you have to call him Uncle Yu.”
Chi DuoDuo looked closely at Yu Chu’s side face and smiled cheekily, “Xiao Chu.”
After Yu Chu grew up, he had no experience with smaller children. Chi DuoDuo stared at him like this and Yu Chu didn’t know what to say, so he was silent and tight-faced.
Chi DuoDuo looked at him with crystal eyes and suddenly came up with a sentence, “Xiao Chu, you look good, better than Hua ZhiNan!”
Xie XingMu also looked at Yu Chu, meaningfully echoed, “This kid is quite discerning.” Then he explained to Yu Chu, “Hua ZhiNan is his classmate, he used to praise the young girl’s beauty.”
Chi DuoDuo shouted again, “Xiao Chu!”
Yu Chu turned his head to look at him, he smiled cheekily and didn’t say anything, revealing two rows of white teeth like broken rice.
Yu Chu was uncomfortable with dealing with children, but he really didn’t know how to communicate with them. He felt nervous dealing with this five-year-old child.
Xie XingMu sensed his uneasiness, was a bit surprised and found it interesting, so he let Chi DuoDuo continue to call out Xiao Chu a few times until Yu Chu’s expression became more and more stiff. Then he started the vehicle with a smile, “Forget it, we’ll teach him when we get back.” He also said to Yu Chu, “Eat the ice cream quickly, before it melts.”
In the back seat, Chi DuoDuo also enthusiastically said, “Xiao Chu eat it. If you can’t finish it, I can help you.”
The G-class started and merged into the traffic, Yu Chu saw that the edges of the ice cream had melted a bit, so he looked down and ate slowly. Even though his back was turned to Chi DuoDuo, he could feel the two fiery eyes of the child that kept falling on the side of his face.
This made him feel like he was sitting on pins and needles.
“Uncle, are we taking Xiao Chu home with us?” Chi DuoDuo asked as he ate.
Yu Chu froze at those words, only then did he realize that the vehicle hadn’t turned around, but was heading in the opposite direction from the flat he was renting.
But what surprised him more than that was Xie XingMu’s answer.
“Yes, Uncle Yu will live with us for the time being.” Xie XingMu looked at the rearview mirror of the oncoming car, as he spoke these words naturally.
Before Yu Chu could ask, Chi DuoDuo burst out with a cheer, “Wow, I knew it! Uncle, is Xiao Chu your gift to me?”
“No, Uncle has already bought your gift and left it at home.” Xie XingMu smiled and looked at Yu Chu, seeing that he was still baffled, he said, “It’s not safe for you to live there. I thought it over and decided you should stay with me.”
“I’m not going.” Yu Chu declined.
Xie XingMu wasn’t surprised, “Why?”
“How can I be bait if I go to your house?” Yu Chu twirled the cone and took another lick, saying, “Living in the home of the head of the criminal investigation team, the family won’t be stupid enough to come to the door to find me. So how will they ever be caught?”
A red light appeared ahead, Xie XingMu slammed on the brakes and watched as he stuck out his tongue and rolled around licking the ice cream for a moment before saying, “We’ll figure something out later, you’ll stay at my house for now.”
Yu Chu rolled the ice cream into his mouth to his upper lip with his tongue, looked at him and asked, “What? Afraid that I, the fish bait, will come out, so you feel guilty and sorry for grandma Zhao?”
Xie XingMu averted his eyes and said in a somewhat dry voice, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it through. I won’t do it again.”
Yu Chu didn’t say anything else, nor did he say anything else about refusing to live in his house, and just concentrated on licking the ice cream dripping down from the cone.
Xie XingMu turned his head away, but watched his movements in the rearview mirror of the car. After the green light came on, he let off the brake and moved forward, saying, “Eat your ice cream, don’t lick it.”
“I’m not licking it. If I don’t lick the melted part off, it will drip onto my pants.” Yu Chu muttered.
Chi DuoDuo also joined in from behind, “Yeah, I’m licking it too. Look!”
“Shush.” Xie XingMu scolded Chi DuoDuo, “If you let it drip on my car, get a paper towel and wipe it off yourself, don’t leave a single trace.”
Chi DuoDuo pouted and used his other hand to catch the melted ice cream from the cone below.
Yu Chu didn’t continue to lick, the remaining small half of the ice cream all stuffed into his mouth. But he didn’t expect the ice cream to be quite large, and his cheeks were bulging, and his whole mouth was starting to feel numb from the cold. 3
Xie XingMu was concentrating on driving, but Chi DuoDuo, who had been watching him, noticed the abnormality and couldn’t help but poke his head forward and ask, “Xiao Chu, are you choking? Xiao Chu, what’s wrong with you?”
Xie XingMu took a look at the passenger side and saw Yu Chu with his cheeks puffed out and his eyes tearing up, trying desperately to swallow, and opening his mouth to breathe out. He was stunned and held the steering wheel with one hand while spreading his other hand over Yu Chu’s mouth, “Come on, spit it out.”
Yu Chu looked at the hand, but didn’t spit it out, he stretched his neck and swallowed it with great effort. Since his mouth was already frozen, even the path from his throat to his stomach seemed to freeze up as well.
Xie XingMu parked at the side of the road, jumped out and jogged into a small restaurant nearby. He brought out a cup of hot water, went around to the passenger side and pulled open the door, then bent down and lifted it to Yu Chu’s mouth, “Drink it. It’s hot so go slow.”
Yu Chu took the paper cup and drank slowly, while Xie XingMu returned to the driver’s seat, looking sideways at Yu Chu, who didn’t speak, his expression somewhat indifferent.