A Guide to Falling Asleep Chapter 38

Chapter 38

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Ning Yiwei guessed that Liang Chong was probably also surprised. Liang Chong paused for an unusually long time. Ning Yiwei had to wait for a while before Liang Chong spoke.

Lu Jiaqin’s client from Yunnan gave her a set of jade Go pieces. She brought it home and placed it on Ning Yiwei’s desk. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Ning Yiwei emptied the can of Go stones and arranged them in a Fibonacci sequence on the checkered bedsheet.

When he reached 13, Liang Chong asked, “Did she recognize you?”

“She didn’t say it clearly,” Ning Yiwei said unhappily as he shuffled the stones and put them back into the can, one by one. “But I’m not foolish.”

He didn’t want to retell the events of tonigh. He just wanted Liang Chong to stay on the phone with him for a while.

However, Liang Chong pursued further, “How did you figure it out?”

“There’s a lot of evidence,” Ning Yiwei said with some frustration. “A lot, you know. She’s naive.”

Liang Chong didn’t speak. Ning Yiwei collected the Go stones and put them back on the bedside table. He told Liang Chong, “But there’s also some good news. She seems to be doing well, without hardship.”

“Is that so?” Liang Chong asked him softly.

“Hmm,” Ning Yiwei recalled her appearance—her curled hair, fair skin—and couldn’t help but speculate with Liang Chong, “Do you think she might have had me out of wedlock? And my biological father abandoned her, leaving her unable to raise me alone, so she decided to abandon me?”

“I don’t think so,” Liang Chong said.

“Ah,” Ning Yiwei sat cross-legged on the bed, feeling a bit down. He held onto the edge of his pajamas and emphasized to Liang Chong, “She’s really beautiful, you’ll see. I think she might have been unable to raise me. Taking care of a baby is difficult. It requires a lot of preparation. Maybe she wasn’t ready and had to make the tough decision not to keep me.”

Ning Yiwei rambled on, offering different guesses, trying to find the most perfect excuse for his birth mother. Maybe it truly was impossible for her to keep him, which led her to abandon Ning Yiwei.

“Weiwei,” Liang Chong’s voice became softer and more gentle.

He called out to Ning Yiwei, but Ning Yiwei didn’t respond. He was lost in his emotions. He finished sharing all his speculations before finally stopping. Then he said to Liang Chong, “Liang Chong, before, I thought even if they found me, I wouldn’t feel anything. But seeing her so sad today, I feel really heartbroken.”

“Why is she so sad?” Ning Yiwei murmured quietly, almost speaking to himself.

His hand clenched his clothes tightly. The knuckles turned white just like when his birth mother was driving earlier, showing signs of excessive force.

He really wanted her to stop crying.

Ning Yiwei had prepared his reasons. He wanted to tell her that crying too much and too intensely could cause conjunctival congestion, leading to temporary vision impairment, increasing the risk of accidents during nighttime driving. Crying was dangerous, so she shouldn’t cry anymore.

“Ning Yiwei—”

“Why is she so heartbroken?” Ning Yiwei lowered his head, gloomily staring at his own hands. “Is she regretting it? If she regrets it, why did she come to find me now?”

His room was very quiet, with only Liang Chong’s barely audible breath in his ears. If Liang Chong didn’t speak, it felt as if there was no sound at all.

Ning Yiwei said, “I’m already twenty years old. I have my own mom and dad.”

As he spoke to Liang Chong, he felt like he was rehearsing a rejection. “I already have parents, so please don’t look for me anymore.” But halfway through the rehearsal, he already felt very reluctant.

“Tell me, Liang Chong,” Ning Yiwei said with great frustration, “What kind of person gave birth to me—”

“—Weiwei, wait, listen to me,” Liang Chong interrupted him as if he couldn’t bear it any longer. “I’m coming back now. When you wake up, I’ll be there.”

“I can’t fall asleep,” Ning Yiwei said with some resistance.

“Just close your eyes…” Liang Chong coaxed him, “Turn off the light.”

“Okay,” Ning Yiwei did as he was told. He turned off the light, lay down, and closed his eyes. He asked Liang Chong, “Where are you?”

“Still in Frankfurt,” Liang Chong whispered. There were voices of people talking on his end, someone speaking to Liang Chong. Liang Chong replied, “Okay,” and then reassured Ning Yiwei, “I’ll be there soon.”

Ning Yiwei gripped his phone tightly and whispered, “Frankfurt, huh? It’s so far away.”

“Not far,” Liang Chong’s voice was deep, like the tone of a lullaby, coaxing Ning Yiwei to fall asleep quickly. “Very close.”

Liang Chong became very gentle when he was serious. Liang Chong was good, like a buoy for Ning Yiwei. It made Ning Yiwei feel that as long as Liang Chong was talking to him, the collapsing tent would be well-supported by Liang Chong and would never collapse.

“I’ll take off in half an hour. When you wake up and have a meal, you’ll see me,” Liang Chong informed Ning Yiwei. “Don’t overthink things.”

If it were someone slightly more mature, they would probably politely say to Liang Chong, “You don’t need to interrupt your trip for me. I can manage on my own.”

But Ning Yiwei was not mature. He was confused and lost, not knowing what to do. He wanted to see Liang Chong and let Liang Chong tell him what to do. So Ning Yiwei sought confirmation from Liang Chong, “If I sleep and wake up, you’ll be here?”

Liang Chong confidently promised, “Once you wake up, I’ll be there.”

“Okay,” Ning Yiwei closed his eyes and quickly lost consciousness.

Early the next morning, Lu Jiaqin and Ning Qiang left. Before leaving, Lu Jiaqin cooked pumpkin porridge and steamed custard buns for Ning Yiwei. She put them in a thermos container and left a note for Ning Yiwei to remind him to eat and leave the bowl in the sink for her to wash when she came back.

Ning Yiwei opened the thermos container, and a blend of milk fragrance and the aroma of pumpkin wafted out. The spoon and chopsticks were placed beside it. Ning Yiwei ate slowly, taking a few bites, when Liang Chong’s call came. He put down the spoon and answered.

“Weiwei, the doorbell downstairs in your building is broken,” Liang Chong said.

“Huh?” Ning Yiwei paused for a moment, stood up, and quickly grabbed the resident card that was placed on the cabinet near the door. He told Liang Chong, “I’ll come down to pick you up.”

He was still wearing his pajamas as he descended to the first floor. He saw Liang Chong wearing a black overcoat, standing not far from the proximity sensor door.

Ning Yiwei walked over, and the door opened. A gust of cold wind accompanied Liang Chong as he entered, causing Ning Yiwei’s ankles to ache.

“Why is it so cold outside?” Ning Yiwei complained to Liang Chong.

Liang Chong didn’t have anything in his hands and naturally held Ning Yiwei’s hand, leading him towards the elevator.

“The temperature dropped,” he said.

After walking a few steps and entering the elevator, Liang Chong embraced Ning Yiwei and pressed the floor button. He wrapped Ning Yiwei in his coat and reached out to pinch Ning Yiwei’s chin, making him lift his face to look for a few seconds before announcing, “Hmm, no dark circles. It seems like you slept well.”

Ning Yiwei wanted to say that of course he slept well, but before a syllable could escape his mouth, Liang Chong swallowed it.

Liang Chong positioned himself in a way that blocked the surveillance cameras. He pressed his lips against Ning Yiwei’s and kissed until the elevator stopped before releasing him.

“My parents went out.” Ning Yiwei opened the fingerprint lock and turned back to Liang Chong. “They won’t be back until late. If you’re tired, you can rest in my room for a while.”

Liang Chong followed Ning Yiwei to the room but didn’t sleep.

He had only been to Ning Yiwei’s home two or three times, each time when he accompanied  Ning Yiwei to pick something up. He had only been upstairs once, never staying for long before leaving.

This time, he carefully looked around the bedroom and felt that the little trinkets and components scattered around, the bookshelf occupying one wall, and the desk and all-in-one machine near the balcony all had more of Ning Yiwei’s personal touch compared to the guest room in his own house.

Ning Yiwei approached Liang Chong and showed him his phone, saying somewhat mysteriously, “She sent me a text this morning.”

Liang Chong glanced at it. Kang Yixin had sent Ning Yiwei a message saying, “I’m the lady from yesterday. Here’s my number.” She also asked if Ning Yiwei had breakfast and what he wanted for lunch.

Parents are generally like this. If they don’t know how to show care, they ask if you’ve eaten.

“Should I reply?” Ning Yiwei asked, troubled by the question that had been bothering him all morning.

Liang Chong took Ning Yiwei’s phone away, which was quite rare. He had an expression of wanting to say something but hesitated.

Ning Yiwei stared at Liang Chong and noticed the change in his expression. A faint suspicion arose in his heart, stirring up an inexplicable doubt. Ning Yiwei tried to take the phone from Liang Chong’s hand, but Liang Chong held onto Ning Yiwei’s hand, looking directly into his eyes. There was something written in Liang Chong’s eyes that Ning Yiwei couldn’t comprehend.

It wasn’t entirely pity, nor was it heartache. It wasn’t extreme caution or walking on thin ice, but it had some similarities.

After a while, Ning Yiwei broke the silence and said, “Do you know something?”

“Weiwei,” Liang Chong suddenly spoke up, “You were born at the Municipal Maternity Hospital, originally located near the city center. Later, it moved to the suburbs.”

“Is that so? I didn’t know.”

Ning Yiwei didn’t know anything about his birth details. Lu Jiaqin and Ning Qiang never mentioned it, and he never asked.

“Your birth mother had difficulties conceiving you,” Liang Chong continued, “It wasn’t an unplanned pregnancy like you thought. Her health wasn’t good, and she had previously miscarried three times before carrying you. To maintain the pregnancy, she had to undergo many injections. During her pregnancy, my father’s hospital wasn’t built yet, and I was still young. My mom and my grandmother accompanied her for a few visits to the hospital. She was often hospitalized.”

Ning Yiwei looked at Liang Chong without saying a word.

“She had booked a private room for when she gave birth to you, but her water broke early, so she went to the hospital in advance. The private room wasn’t available yet, so she stayed in a shared room for a few days,” Liang Chong paused for a moment, seeming to organize his thoughts, before continuing, “She met another expectant mother around the same time.”

Ning Yiwei felt a bit cold, so he grabbed a pillow from the bed, hugged it, and looked up at Liang Chong.

Liang Chong’s hand moved, reaching out and lightly touching Ning Yiwei’s face. He continued, “Back then, the hospital’s management wasn’t as strict as it is now. Perhaps they thought your birth mother came from a well-off family or for some other reason, the other expectant mother swapped her own child with you.”

Ning Yiwei still stared blankly at Liang Chong, unsure of what to say.

Liang Chong and Ning Yiwei locked eyes for a few seconds, closed their eyes briefly, and Liang Chong leaned in, gently kissing Ning Yiwei’s forehead. He then told him, “Your birth father was the one who discovered this. He saw a photo of your birth mother when she was seventeen and thought she looked a lot like you. This raised questions in his mind, so he had some investigations done, which uncovered more doubts. He took his and his wife’s samples, and I helped him obtain yours for a paternity test.”

Liang Chong opened his phone and found a picture to show Ning Yiwei. “It’s this one.”

It was a family portrait. Ning Yiwei looked at the girl circled with a pen and pondered for a moment. He felt it was quite familiar. No wonder his biological father started having doubts.

“When did you find out?” Ning Yiwei asked Liang Chong.

“When you came to Australia, your birth father called me,” Liang Chong said, “The paternity test was conducted on the day you accompanied me back from Australia.”

Ning Yiwei looked at Liang Chong, his nose tingling, and his eyes welling up with tears. He thought about what had happened before going to Australia and felt it was only by luck that those things had occurred.

“So, my birth father…” Ning Yiwei looked at Liang Chong and spoke in a low voice.

It was Professor Kong.

“It’s Professor Kong Shenfeng,” Liang Chong said, “His wife is my aunt, Kang Yixin.”

Ning Yiwei sat for a while, lowering his head and awkwardly looking at his feet clad in fluffy slippers. He said, “I see.”

“I used to think that my birth father and birth mother didn’t want me,” Ning Yiwei said, “For various reasons, there are many stories like this.”

“No,” Liang Chong said, “No one ever rejected you.”

“Hmm,” Ning Yiwei nodded lightly.

Ning Yiwei had always been sensitive to words like “adoption.”

He didn’t feel inferior, and he had always been loved and raised in a healthy manner. He didn’t care about biological connections, but that didn’t mean he never thought about it or never got hurt because of it.

Ning Yiwei always felt that all abandoned children were like little fireflies. Some fireflies had homes, while others didn’t.

Ning Yiwei was one of those with a home, but he still stood out because some annoyingly talkative people liked to ask knowingly. So he stood out because of the adoption procedures recorded in the household registration information, and he stood out because his DNA didn’t match.

All fireflies didn’t want others to see their shining tails because then no one would speculate if the firefly had a health problem or if it was stupid.

Ning Yiwei himself had some speculations, and now it seemed that they were all wrong.

It turned out they didn’t reject him. They just made a mistake. Ning Yiwei thought blankly. It was just a mistake.

He was held in Liang Chong’s embrace.

Liang Chong kissed his eyes and lips, warmed his hands, and kissed away his salty tears and helpless sadness.

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