Ning Yiwei accompanied Liang Chong in Australia for almost two weeks.
Liang Qichao woke up the next day and was moved to the special care ward. His condition seemed stable with minimal adverse reactions. Liang Chong visited the hospital during the day and told Ning Yiwei that his driver could take him to places he wanted to visit.
Ning Yiwei initially felt that it wasn’t a good idea for Liang Chong to be running around while his father was sick. However, the afternoon before his departure, at the recommendation of Zhou Zirui, he finally visited a nearby natural history museum
The museum had many exhibits, and Ning Yiwei spent a considerable amount of time exploring inside. He had conversations with Zhou Zirui along the way. Before leaving, he brought some publications for Zhou Zirui, pondered for a while, and also bought souvenirs for all the people he could think of.
This included Professor Kong, who had helped him obtain leave. However, Ning Yiwei was uncertain about Professor Kong’s return date and how to deliver the souvenirs to him.
The museum closed at five o’clock. When Ning Yiwei returned, he carried a big bag of things and walked into Liang Chong’s house. He saw Kang Minmin sitting in the living room, chatting with Liang Chong. Both Kang Minmin and Liang Chong didn’t look too good.
Ning Yiwei felt a bit embarrassed and greeted, “Hello, Auntie,” as he placed the things in the hallway.
Liang Chong glanced at the bag of things and asked, “What did you buy?”
“Souvenirs,” Ning Yiwei replied.
He walked to the edge of the sofa and sat down. The distance between him and Liang Chong was enough for three people, giving off an awkward atmosphere.
Liang Chong looked at him, opened his mouth, but didn’t say anything. He just asked, “Did you get anything for me?”
“Why would he buy something for you?” Kang Minmin interrupted sharply and said with a hint of sarcasm, “Can’t you buy it yourself?”
Ning Yiwei dared not speak and nervously looked at this mother and son who seemed to have just had an argument.
Without waiting for Liang Chong’s response, Kang Minmin said she was too tired and went upstairs to rest.
As Kang Minmin’s figure disappeared from the stairwell, Liang Chong raised his chin to Ning Yiwei and said, “Come closer.”
Ning Yiwei moved closer cautiously and asked Liang Chong, “Did you have an argument with Auntie?”
“Hmm,” Liang Chong admitted, but didn’t mention the reason. He pinched Ning Yiwei’s face lightly and asked, “Do I really have no gift?”
Ning Yiwei pursed his lips and said yes. He walked over and placed a big bag of things in front of Liang Chong, showing him, “Except for this, this stack, this one, this one, and this one, you can choose anything else.”
Liang Chong picked out a package from the bag that was noticeably more expensive than the others. It was one of Ning Yiwei’s “this.” He asked him, “What is this?”
“It’s for Professor Kong,” Ning Yiwei said. “I’m just not sure when he’ll return from his trip to Tokyo and if I can catch up with him.”
When Liang Chong heard the words “Professor Kong,” he paused for a moment and casually suggested to Ning Yiwei, “Don’t you have a good teacher-student relationship? Send him an email to ask when he’ll be back at school.”
“Hmm,” Ning Yiwei picked a small box from the bag and gave it to Liang Chong. He said, “Actually, this one is for you.”
Liang Chong took it out. It was a very small rubber fish model.
“What is this?” Liang Chong looked left and right but couldn’t see anything special about it.
“It’s a thunderfish,” Ning Yiwei introduced enthusiastically. “Doesn’t it look gentle and beautiful? In reality, thunderfish are fierce carnivores with a strong sense of territory.”
Liang Chong remained expressionless, unsure how to evaluate this gift. Should he reveal his fierce nature directly or thank Ning Yiwei for complimenting his appearance?
After observing Liang Chong for a while, Ning Yiwei couldn’t help but laugh and said, “Look at you being so silly. I tricked you.”
He took the fish back, lowered his head, and squeezed the fish’s tail. “I couldn’t find anything interesting today, so I’ll buy something for you next time. But thunderfish do resemble…”
Ning Yiwei was in the middle of speaking when an impatient Liang Chong pulled him closer and kissed him. No matter how many times they kissed, Ning Yiwei seemed nervous. He was half-kneeling on the sofa, one hand resting on the armrest, while the other was held by Liang Chong. His hand lacked strength and lay limp in Liang Chong’s palm.
Ning Yiwei’s lips were moist, soft, and rosy, resembling morning mist or dewdrops, tempting one to possess and treasure them.
On the evening of the next day, just before landing in their home country, Liang Chong received an email with the test results.
The report indicated that Ning Yiwei had a biological relationship with Kong Shenfeng and Kang Yixin. Liang Chong glanced at the report, walked over, and woke Ning Yiwei up.
On the day Ning Yiwei was returning to his parents’ home, during the journey, Liang Chong didn’t work or engage in much conversation with Ning Yiwei. He pondered a lot, recalling Ning Yiwei’s expressions and tone when he mentioned his biological parents that night. In the end, Liang Chong forwarded the report to Kong Shenfeng and, after seeing Ning Yiwei go upstairs, called Kong Shenfeng.
Kong Shenfeng was in Tokyo, attending a student presentation when he saw the test results.
For the next ten minutes or so, many words entered Kong Shenfeng’s ears, but none made it into his mind. After one student finished their presentation, Kong Shenfeng walked out of the presentation hall, wanting to calm down. That’s when he received a call from Liang Chong.
He answered the call, but both parties remained silent, unsure of who should start the conversation and what to say.
Kong Shenfeng sat by the flowerbed outside the presentation hall, looking at the evening light merging with the darkness. He broke the silence and asked Liang Chong, “He doesn’t know yet, right?”
“He doesn’t know,” Liang Chong quickly replied, “I haven’t told anyone except you.”
“What do you think?” Kong Shenfeng asked again.
There was a pause on Liang Chong’s end before he said, “Whether to disclose it or tell anyone is up to you.”
Kong Shenfeng noticed a subtle change in Liang Chong’s tone compared to the last time when he was more assertive. Lost in thought, Kong Shenfeng listened as Liang Chong continued, “Ning Yiwei always felt that based on his abandonment ten days after birth, his biological parents wouldn’t come looking for him.”
“Did you ask him?” Kong Shenfeng spoke softly. “What else did he say?”
“He said he never thought about his biological parents’ situation, and he never dreamt about it,” Liang Chong slowly responded. “He might feel that thinking about these things would hurt his adoptive parents.”
“But we all know that’s not the case,” Liang Chong added. “You make the decision.”
Liang Chong and Kong Shenfeng’s call didn’t last long. Kong Shenfeng didn’t return to the presentation hall. Feeling somewhat disoriented, he returned to his apartment and sat there, just like when he received the previous test results.
He turned on his computer, opened a search page, hoping to find a psychologist to guide him.
Suddenly, his email inbox notified him of a new message from Ning Yiwei. Ning Yiwei informed him, “Professor Kong, I have returned to school. Thank you for helping me with my leave! I brought a souvenir for you (not expensive). When will you be back at school?”
Kong Shenfeng clicked on the reply field, but his fingers hovered over the keyboard, typing a few syllables before deleting them all.
His phone, which was set aside, started vibrating. He glanced at it and saw that it was a call from his wife.
The room was empty, with only Kong Shenfeng inside. After some contemplation, he slowly pressed the answer button and switched to speakerphone mode, calling out to Kang Yixin, “Wife, what’s the matter?”
He felt that his voice sounded somewhat weak, but perhaps after being transmitted wirelessly, it wouldn’t be too noticeable.
Kang Yixin’s voice, on the other hand, was filled with a sense of impending storm, as she exclaimed, “Do you know that Xiao Zong has been arranged to transfer schools?”
“…What?” Kong Shenfeng was a bit slow to react.
“Xiao Zong came back today and said he was summoned for a meeting. It was arranged directly by the Physics Department and the university. If he doesn’t transfer, he’ll be expelled,” Kang Yixin said. “You didn’t know at all?”
“I didn’t know,” Kong Shenfeng said.
However, he knew what to reply to Ning Yiwei. He responded to Ning Yiwei’s message, saying, “Thank you. I’ll be back at the beginning of next month. I heard the surgery went well. How are you and him doing?”
While listening to Kang Yixin’s complaints about him not caring about their son, Kong Shenfeng sent the reply email.
“Are you even listening? Our son said it was arranged by Liang Chong,” Kang Yixin grew increasingly frustrated with his lack of response. “I called Liang Chong, but he didn’t answer. When I called my sister, she claimed not to know, saying she was tired from taking care of her husband and hung up on me. I’m going to find my mom right now. Are you listening?”
“Wait, don’t alarm your mother just yet,” Kong Shenfeng was startled and tried to dissuade her.
“If we wait any longer, Xiao Zong will really have to transfer schools,” Kang Yixin’s voice rose, scolding Kong Shenfeng. “Did studying physics fry your brain? Xiao Zong is your own son!”
Her almost screaming voice reverberated in Kong Shenfeng’s small living room, while the sound of his computer receiving the email notification seemed small and inconspicuous with a soft “whoosh.”
Ning Yiwei replied, “I’m in love!”
At that moment, it seemed like numerous images flashed before Kong Shenfeng’s eyes.
He recalled when they had just gotten married, there were always people saying that he and Kang Yixin were incompatible, that Kang Yixin was too dominant, and that they didn’t match. Kang Yixin’s ex-boyfriend encountered them at a restaurant and thought Kong Shenfeng was an easy target. He came over to show off but ended up getting a face full of red wine thrown by Kang Yixin.
He recalled how Kang Yixin endured a difficult nine months of pregnancy, her body swelling up, lying in bed with ankles leaving dents when pressed. She would hold his hand and say while touching her belly, “Look, our baby is moving.”
At eighteen weeks, Kang Yixin said the little Kong Shenfeng was swimming like a tiny fish in her belly. At twenty-three weeks, she lamented why the baby was so quiet and didn’t move much.
The thirty-week ultrasound faintly revealed the baby’s features. Kang Yixin remarked, “Why do I feel like it look like me when I was little?”
But now, due to Kong Zong, Kang Yixin was fiercely scolding Kong Shenfeng over the phone.
She loved her child very much, embracing all his imperfect yet perfect qualities, cherishing his little cleverness and not-so-clever moments, doing her best to give him the finest care.
And this was the environment where Ning Yiwei should have belonged.
Ning Yiwei should have had a mother who loved him unconditionally and a father who was his hero.
Kong Shenfeng thought he could say that, even though it seemed somewhat self-satisfied.
Ning Yiwei should have lived in a family like this.
Everything that Ning Yiwei deserved, he didn’t receive, yet he grew up healthy, simple, happy, and pure in the midst of barbarism and adversity. He didn’t waste a single minute on the wrong path.
“Wife, pause for a moment,” Kong Shenfeng said. “I have something very important to tell you.”
“…What?” Kang Yixin heard the seriousness in his voice, so she temporarily stopped and asked him.
“Take some time to come to Tokyo in the next few days,” Kong Shenfeng said. “This matter is very serious. Let’s not argue for now.”
He heard Kang Yixin hesitate for a moment, then heard her say, “Fine, I’ll come tomorrow night.”
Then, he opened the reply box again for Ning Yiwei and sent him an emoji commonly used by his students, the one showing clapping hands.
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