They couldn’t stay under the staircase for long. Liang Qichao’s surgery was almost over. Liang Chong looked at his watch and took Ning Yiwei towards the direction of the waiting room.
Ning Yiwei thought it would be best not to hold hands when they appeared in front of Liang Chong’s mother. Holding hands felt strange, and even though the hospital wasn’t crowded, there were still some people around. Ning Yiwei was dressed casually, which didn’t match Liang Chong’s fashionable appearance, making them stand out. Ning Yiwei wasn’t used to getting too much attention.
However, Liang Chong seemed to think that holding hands was an important ritual. Ning Yiwei tried to pull away for a while but eventually gave up, realizing that Liang Chong’s preference was more important.
They walked through the hallway, passed the lawn, and reached a frosted glass door. Liang Chong stopped and placed Ning Yiwei’s big backpack on the low cabinet next to the door. He opened the door. Kang Minmin was sitting on the couch directly facing the door, lost in thought.
She had lost some weight since Ning Yiwei last saw her at home and appeared tired. Her lips were pressed together, seemingly restless and anxious because her husband was still in the operating room. However, her spirits were still good.
Seeing Ning Yiwei, Kang Minmin first froze for a moment, then her gaze moved downward and noticed Liang Chong holding hands with Ning Yiwei. She opened her mouth, her expression complex. Perhaps because anything she said might hurt someone’s feelings, she chose to remain silent.
It was only when Liang Chong pulled Ning Yiwei to sit on the long sofa that Kang Minmin spoke, her voice slightly hoarse. She said, “Weiwei is here too. I was wondering why Liang Chong took so long with his cigarette.” After speaking, she coughed twice and then picked up her tea, taking a sip.
“He came on his own,” Liang Chong explained to Kang Minmin. “I caught him in the act. He hadn’t eaten, so I took him to a restaurant.”
Kang Minmin nodded, setting down her tea. Feeling somewhat awkward but still kind, she asked Ning Yiwei, “Are you here to accompany Liang Chong?”
Ning Yiwei said, “Yes,” and fell silent again.
The three of them sat quietly for a while. Kang Minmin said to Liang Chong, “If your father wakes up, don’t go in front of him like this. His heart isn’t in good condition.”
“Understood,” Liang Chong said, and he firmly interlocked his fingers with Ning Yiwei’s, adding, “I’ll take it slow.”
Kang Minmin looked at him, then at Ning Yiwei, torn between not wanting to say harsh words and thinking they were being too unruly. After watching them for a while, she finally spoke, a mixture of reproach and complaint, saying to Liang Chong, “Didn’t you say you two wouldn’t be together?”
Liang Chong slowly rubbed the back of Ning Yiwei’s hand with his thumb, as if touching his most precious treasure, something that no one else could touch. Without looking up, he said to Kang Minmin, “He came looking for me on his own.”
As the person directly involved, Ning Yiwei felt that Liang Chong distorted some of the facts and spoke a sentence that sounded overly proud in a completely unassuming tone.
Kang Minmin clearly didn’t expect Liang Chong to respond like that, leaving her momentarily speechless.
Shortly after, the door of the waiting room was knocked twice, and a nurse pushed it open, allowing the lead surgeon to enter.
He looked sweaty but composed, walking briskly over and shaking hands with Liang Chong. He informed Liang Chong and Kang Minmin that the surgery was completed successfully and that they only needed to observe the patient for any notable complications.
Everyone in the waiting room let out a sigh of relief. Kang Minmin closed her eyes, suppressing the moisture welling up in her eyes.
Liang Qichao had already been taken to the ICU. Liang Chong and Kang Minmin approached the large glass windows of the ICU, observing the various monitors flashing with orderly lights, giving a sense of safety and reliability.
Kang Minmin asked the doctor how long Liang Qichao would stay in the ICU, and the doctor replied that it was uncertain and depended on when the patient regained consciousness.
After waiting in the waiting room for a short while, Kang Minmin said to Liang Chong, “You and Weiwei should go home and rest. I’ll keep an eye on him.”
Seeing that Liang Chong seemed about to object, Kang Minmin added, “I’ll let you know if anything comes up. It’s been a while since you’ve had a good sleep.”
As his mother insisted, Liang Chong didn’t argue too much with her and asked his assistant to call the driver to take Ning Yiwei home.
The house of the Liang family was not far from the hospital, just a short drive of several tens of minutes. Ning Yiwei followed behind Liang Chong, looking around and admiring the neatly maintained garden and lawn of Liang Chong’s home.
As they entered Liang Chong’s house, he closed the door behind him and suddenly remembered something, so he asked Ning Yiwei, “Did you take leave from your studies?”
“Uh-huh,” Ning Yiwei nodded. “Professor Kong helped me request it. He not only excused me from a weekly meeting but also asked if I had money to buy the plane ticket.”
Ning Yiwei spoke with an expression of deep admiration involuntarily creeping onto their face. “I’m truly fortunate to be Professor Kong’s graduate student.”
“Really? Is he that good?” Liang Chong asked Ning Yiwei with a skeptical tone. “And he even gave you money for the plane ticket. What did you tell him?”
“Uh…” Ning Yiwei choked for a moment, feeling embarrassed. He didn’t want to tell Liang Chong the truth but also struggled with lying. He stumbled over his words, “I said I wanted to… had something… well, just like that…”
“Just like that? What does that mean?” Liang Chong’s least favorite thing was that he knew Ning Yiwei too well. Seeing Ning Yiwei looking around nervously, he could tell something was off.
He pressed Ning Yiwei against the door, not allowing him to enter until he spoke up. “Tell me.”
Ning Yiwei felt Liang Chong’s touch on his shoulder and waist, tickling and making him anxious. He didn’t want to say it, so he tried to push Liang Chong’s face away from his ear, but it ended up looking like he was embracing him. His wrist was caught by Liang Chong’s hand, pressing it against the door.
Liang Chong whispered, “You dare push me.”
Ning Yiwei pursed his lips, lifted his head, and looked at Liang Chong, who was also looking at him.
In that moment of eye contact, Ning Yiwei felt that Liang Chong’s gaze was overwhelming, something he absolutely couldn’t let others see. So, with a bold move, he reached out to cover Liang Chong’s eyes and said, “Close them.”
Caught off guard, Liang Chong didn’t react in time, and Ning Yiwei succeeded in his mischief.
Ning Yiwei pressed his palm against Liang Chong’s nose bridge, with his fingertips resting in the hollow beneath his eyebrow. It felt as if he possessed the entirety of Liang Chong. In a mischievous moment, he swiftly leaned in and kissed Liang Chong’s lips, intending to teach him a lesson about “not looking at others like that.” But what came out was, “Mine.”
This was Ning Yiwei’s biggest wish of the year, unlike any previous years.
It wasn’t about world peace, the proof of the Riemann hypothesis, spending a whole week visiting CERN, or getting a paper published in a prestigious journal. It was a wish that encompassed every cell, every particle of Ning Yiwei: Liang Chong had to be his.
Liang Chong forcefully pulled away Ning Yiwei’s hand that covered his eyes, his gaze making Ning Yiwei feel scared.
Ning Yiwei recalled the image of Liang Chong pulling down the sun visor in the car. He felt Liang Chong press against him, feeling the force as his lips pressed against his, grinding but not parting.
The two of them stood close together, without engaging in a passionate kiss, yet their mouths were even drier than if they had.
In a daze, Ning Yiwei noticed that Liang Chong’s ** was pressing firmly against his thigh. Despite the fabric of two layers of pants separating them, Ning Yiwei felt as if his ʟєɢꜱ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴀʟʀᴇᴀᴅʏ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ꜱᴘʀєᴀᴅ ᴀᴘᴀʀᴛ by Liang Chong on a bed.
Ning Yiwei’s hand, trapped by Liang Chong against the door, weakly slid down, and their mouth made stammering sounds, unable to produce a coherent voice.
After briefly brushing their lips against each other, Liang Chong seemed to realize something and released Ning Yiwei.
“Forget it,” Liang Chong said, “Nothing is prepared at home.”
Ning Yiwei’s legs felt weak, almost giving in to the urge to sit down. Fortunately, Liang Chong caught him just in time, preventing him from falling to the ground. Slowly, he followed Liang Chong to the living room and sat down, hugging his legs and sitting beside Liang Chong, watching as he turned on the television and changed the channels.
After a moment of silence, Ning Yiwei moved closer, and it seemed as if Liang Chong had been waiting for this. Naturally and smoothly, he embraced Ning Yiwei, allowing him to lean against his chest.
After watching a few news segments, Ning Yiwei yawned and suddenly decided to confess voluntarily. “I told Professor Kong everything.”
Liang Chong glanced at Ning Yiwei and asked, “What did you say?”
“I said everything I could.” Ning Yiwei half-closed his eyes, clutching Liang Chong’s hand and placing it in his pocket. “I told him I came to find you.”
Liang Chong became even more suspicious. He half-held Ning Yiwei and asked, “What did he say? Did he help you with your leave?”
As soon as he finished speaking, Liang Chong’s phone vibrated.
He picked it up and glanced at the screen. The name “Kong Shenfeng” was displayed, giving him a sense of being caught in the act.
Sensing that something was off, Liang Chong tilted the screen away slightly so that Ning Yiwei couldn’t see the caller. He said to Ning Yiwei, “I need to take this call.”
Ning Yiwei agreed and moved to the other side of the couch, picking up the remote control to switch channels.
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